Study: Foreign students often leave Western Pa. after getting degrees
Pittsburgh may be missing a potential economic boost because most international students leave the region when they get their degrees, a new study suggests.
The study, released on Friday, ranked the Pittsburgh area as the 15th most-popular region in the nation for foreign students to study.
Neil Ruiz penned the report for the Brookings Institution that tracked the geographic impact of international students. It reported that 13,326 foreign students poured more than $626 million in tuition and living costs into the region between 2008 and 2012.
Global Pittsburgh spokesman Tom Buell, whose group works with a consortium of 15 colleges, universities and English language programs to attract international students, said the most recent statistics available show numbers of foreign students rose 16 percent in the Pittsburgh region during the 2012-13 school year — more than twice the national rate.
But Ruiz found only 44.5 percent of them stay after graduation.
“That's not very good,” Ruiz said.
A training provision of their student visas allows graduates to work full time in the United States for 12 to 29 months after they get their degrees. Then they must obtain a special visa, become a legal permanent resident or return home. Ruiz said that in the Pittsburgh region, about 72 percent of foreign students are enrolled in master's or doctoral programs.
“Most of them are very highly sought-after students,” Ruiz said. “Most of them are coming from some of the fastest-growing cities in the world. First, they open up markets in their home cities, which facilitate trade, foreign direct investment and knowledge transfer. In addition, they infuse revenue into local communities, and they help fill demand for jobs requiring specific skills in local labor markets.”
Simply put, Ruiz said “They help build bridges.”
At 23, Beijing native Siyu Zhang, who is studying for a master's degree in industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, would like to help build those kinds of bridges in Pittsburgh.
Siyu, who speaks fluent, rapid-fire English, will graduate in December. He's circulating resumes here and attends the First Thursday events Global Pittsburgh hosts to network with local entrepreneurs.
“I've already attended two career fairs at Pitt. At the end, they always ask ‘Do you have a green card or are you a U.S. citizen?' And then they say they'll be in touch. It's a hard process, but I'll keep trying,” he said, smiling.
It was no surprise to officials at Global Pittsburgh, which encourages international outreach, that the number of international students has grown here.
“The wide range of institutions, coupled with the high quality of life and low cost of living have made this a very attractive destination for students from all over the world,” Buell said.
Universities looking to boost their finances and international profile welcome foreign students because they typically pay the highest tuition rates at local schools but receive little or no financial aid.
Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Improved play against zone keys Pitt’s turnaround
- Notre Dame President Hesburgh expanded school, improved academics, fought for civil rights
- Record-breaking temps could make February the coldest one since 1979
- Kittanning’s Robb hoping for rematch with West Branch’s Maines in final
- White Oak seeks funds to stabilize road
- Duquesne Elementary School students join the ranks of junior constables
- Corporate food masquerades as hipster fare
- Finding perfect pairing for Ehrhoff key for Penguins
- Toyota Mirai to run on hydrogen fuel cells, widen green-vehicle divide
- Temp slowly rising
- Pittsburgh police chief: Officers, public must unite against violence