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Explained: Why US cannot say no to foreign students

How important are international students to US universities? Extremely important, say experts, be it by way of diversity, the quality of talent or the revenue they bring to institute coffers.On Wednesday, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued the Trump administration to protect student visas, and vowed to pursue the case vigorously, according to Lawrence Bacow, president, Harvard. Even as the battle lines are being drawn between the universities and the US immigration authorities, ET brings to you a snapshot of what international students bring to the table – and why US universities can’t run the risk of losing them.How the numbers stack up:Total number of international students in the US (2018-19) - 1,095,299International students make up around 5.5% of the total US higher education population.(Source: Open Doors 2019, by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs)Revenue reckoner:International students contributed $44.7 billion to the US economy in 2018, according to data from the Department of CommercePopular programmes:51.6% of international students in the US pursued STEM fields in 2018/19Number of foreign students in Math and Computer Science programmes grew 9.4%, surpassing Business and Management to become the second-largest field of study.(Source: Open Doors 2019)Top 5 sources of international students in the US(Across undergraduate, graduate, non-degree, and optional practical training (OPT) programmes in academic year 2018-19)Of the 1 million-plus international students in the US, China and India accounted for over 52%Source countryNo of students (2018-19)China3,69,548India2,02,014South Korea52,250Saudi Arabia37,080Canada26,122Emerging market countries showed some of the strongest growth year over year in 2018-19Bangladesh (+10%)Brazil (+9.8%)Nigeria (+5.8%)Pakistan (+5.6%) Source: Open Doors 2019How foreign students help:International students are big business for US universities. On an average, international students pay around 2-3 times the regular tuition at public universities. At private universities, tuition fees are the same except for an ‘international student fee’Diversity enriches learning environment in classrooms Contribute to research, particularly in science and engineeringFees charged by top US colleges:Private: Top private universities like Harvard and Stanford charge tuition fee of over $50,000 for an academic yearCombined fee for private universities including tuition, room, boarding and others is upwards of $70,000 for an academic yearPublic: For international students, the tuition fee is between $30,000 and $50,000 per academic yearCombined fee for public universities including room, boarding, tuition and other fee for international students averages $40,000-60,000“Foreign students are the key source of revenue for foreign universities; they cannot depend on alumni endowments alone,” Jatin Bhandari, CEO at MBA admission consulting firm PythaGurus.“In case, international students pull out of the US ecosystem, then more than 50% of the US colleges will not be able to sustain themselves financially,” Adarsh Khandelwal, cofounder of Collegify Why the new guidelines, if implemented, will hurt US universities Hostile/restrictive policy may dissuade prospective international students from applying to the USUS universities will lose out on talent – particularly in techCanada, the UK, Australia, Germany, etc. may gain in the bargainFinancial setback for institutes dependent on international enrolmentsNew international student enrolment has already been on the decline