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International students add more than $5 million to local economy

RELEASED: Nov. 29, 2011

Markgraf
Dr. Karl Markgraf

EAU CLAIRE — The 228 international students who studied at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire last year pumped more than $5.2 million into the Chippewa Valley economy, according to a report released this month by NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

NAFSA's Economic Impact Statements report considered foreign students' spending on living expenses, tuition and fees when making its estimates about the economic impact of the international students and their families.

"Our international students are making significant contributions to the local and regional economy," said Dr. Karl Markgraf, director of the Center for International Education. "In addition to paying their university tuition and fees, these students are spending money in restaurants, on entertainment, in stores and in other area businesses. They take advantage of the many experiences available to them on campus, as well as in the community and beyond. There is a substantial financial benefit to the region and the state by having foreign students on our campus."

NAFSA's Economic Impact Statements report estimates that nationwide foreign students and their families contributed more than $20 million to the U.S. economy during the 2010-11 academic year.

The number of foreign students studying at UW-Eau Claire is climbing each year, Markgraf said. There are 254 international students studying at UW-Eau Claire this fall, an increase of more than 25 students from a year ago and an increase of more than 100 foreign students from three years ago, he said. The university's goal is to have 300 international students enrolled by the 2014-15 academic year, he said.

"The international students now on our campus are from more than 40 nations," Markgraf said, noting that the single largest international group on campus is Chinese. "New groups on campus are the students from the Middle East. We now have students from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman and United Arab Emirates. We are hoping to see larger numbers coming from South and Central America as well."

UW-Eau Claire has enhanced its international student recruitment efforts in recent years as the campus works toward meetings its goal of accelerating global learning, Markgraf said. In addition to the financial benefits, international students also provide members of the campus and Eau Claire communities with opportunities to learn about other countries and cultures, he said.

"Opportunities to interact with students from other parts of the world help all of us be better prepared to live and work in our global society," Markgraf said. "International educational exchange is one of the most efficient ways to foster global understanding because it happens on a personal level. The more we get to know each other, the more we understand each other. Then the world becomes smaller, and seeing the differences becomes less important than seeing what we have in common. These students bring a diversity to our campus and to the Eau Claire community that is very welcome."

More information about the financial impact of international students in the U.S. (including a breakdown for Wisconsin) is available online.

To discuss international students studying at UW-Eau Claire, contact Dr. Karl Markgraf at 715-836-4411 or Markgraf@uwec.edu.

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JB/DW

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