Growing International Students Means More Money in Missouri

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COLUMBIA - A report released by the Missouri Department of Higher Education ranks the state of Missouri 12th in the nation in the number of international students enrolled at the state's colleges and universities. 

University of Missouri's director of international student and scholar services, David Currey, said the numbers of international students in the past decade have increased dramatically. 

"This year, we have an approximate of 2,524 international students this fall," Currey said. "The numbers are continuing to grow."

Last fall 2,490 international students were enrolled at MU.

Currey said the biggest impact is on the economy. 

"International students contribute about $25 billion to the American economy, and to the Missouri economy, it's somewhere about $452 million dollars," Currey said. "They're also a huge talent pool for us in terms of the bright and the best from all over the world." 

Besides the economic impact, one University of Missouri student from Korea said international students have other impacts. 

"In my country, there's not that much foreigners, so we don't have a lot of opportunities to experience foreign cultures," Clara Cho said. "Since there's a lot of international students in Columbia, a lot of American students can get a lot of opportunities to experience other cultures without needing to go to other countries and spend a lot of money." 

Cho said one of the first things she had to deal with as an international student was to choose a bank.

"I brought about $2,000 in cash when I first came here to settle down for 1-2 months," Cho said.

Mary Wilkerson, senior vice president of marketing at Boone County National Bank, said the bank enjoys working with international students. 

"The demand for those students is higher than it's ever been and we can meet that need," Wilkerson said. "They have a much higher level of financial need because they literally move their whole lives over here."

Currey said he sees a positive future for increasing international enrollment. 

"We're really excited about the growth we're seeing in the international student market," Currey said. "We've been working really hard to bring more international students and I think we're beginning to see the fruit of that."