El Paso, TX (KDBC) — A record number of foreign students are looking to the United States for an education, and a new report states they're contributing billions to the American economy.
After the September 11th terrorist attacks, the number of students coming to the U.S. for college dropped significantly - mainly because they couldn't easily get a student visa.
But according to a new report by the Institute of International Education, 819,644 foreign students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities for the 2012-2013 school year - that's up 7% from last year.
The report also states most of those students come from China, India, South Korea, Saudia Arabia, and Canada - and together, they contribute $24 billion a year to the U.S. economy.
Students like Mehran Mazari, who flew around the world from Iran to El Paso in 2011 to pursue a Ph.D. in civil engineering at UTEP, say the investment in an American education is priceless.
"We have no other countries like us like the level of education, the level of research and studies that's going on here in the United States," said Mazari.
"The United States is still a Mecca for folks around the world who want to come and study," said Gary Edens, Vice President of Student Affairs at UTEP.
Edens says there are almost 2000 international students at UTEP, the majority of whom are from Mexico.
He says he's not surprised at the national numbers and says it's a win-win situation for everybody.
"It's a benefit for those students here in America who are interacting and building friendships with people from other countries. It makes that student much more marketable, and much more ready for the real world of work after graduation," said Edens.
As for Mazari, he hopes for more lenient immigration policies for international students who want to stay in the country after graduation.
"So that they can work, they can contribute to research, they can contribute to science and education," said Marazi.
The number of American students studying abroad is also at an all-time high, although there are far fewer and they stay in foreign countries for much less time than students coming to the United States.