The Detroit Regional Chamber participated in a press conference hosted by Global Detroit to release never-seen-before data demonstrating the importance and contribution of international students to Michigan’s workforce. The event also featured Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II and business leaders like Chamber Board member Ronia Kruse, president and chief executive officer of OpTech Solutions.
The findings in this report underscore how critical this often-overlooked segment of talent is to Michigan’s future prosperity and leadership, especially in increasingly in-demand high-tech talent and STEM fields. The Chamber and its programs like Detroit Drives Degrees and MICHauto have shared this sentiment for years and are committed to ensuring support and opportunities for these talented students and workers through business engagement and government advocacy.
“Every source of talent is critical,” said Greg Handel, vice president of Education and Talent at the Detroit Regional Chamber. “And while we need to be focused on better educating our local residents, immigration is also a rich source of talent – and in our case, high-tech talent.”
“Attracting and retaining the talented students at our world-class universities is key to growing our economy, creating jobs, and building on Michigan’s heritage of innovation,” said Lt. Gov. Gilchrist. “Global Detroit’s report highlighting international students’ $825+ million in annual contribution to Michigan’s economy shows the importance of building on our budget investment in statewide global talent retention efforts.”
Global Detroit’s study was based upon first-of-its-kind data obtained by the Pew Research Center tracking international students working in the U.S. under their student visas after graduation, they shared in a press release. Using Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, Pew assembled the records of over one million international students working in the U.S. from 2004-2016.
Key findings of the report include:
- The number of international students hired annually by Michigan companies grew throughout this thirteen-year period and by some 330% over the period studied.
- Michigan employers hired more than 40,000 international students from 2004-16, and Michigan was the 10th largest employer of international students working under their student visas.
- Michigan colleges and universities had 27,500 international students in 2020-21, the 9th largest international student population in the nation. These students contributed over $825 million in economic activity to Michigan’s economy.
- International students accounted for 74% of all the graduate students in electrical engineering, 72% of all the graduate students in computer sciences, and more than 50% of all the graduate students in industrial and manufacturing engineering, mechanical engineering, mathematics, and other critical fields of study at U.S. colleges and universities.
- Nationally, while international students comprise 12% of the students enrolled at public colleges and universities, they provide 28% of the tuition dollars.
- Nearly 9,000 international students were hired by Michigan employers in 2016 alone.
“This is groundbreaking research that no other state has produced,” said Steve Tobocman, Global Detroit’s executive director. “The State of Michigan’s recent appropriation of funds, combined with the region’s recent $52 million federal Economic Development Administration grant to build a global epicenter of mobility, will enable Global Detroit, regional chambers of commerce and economic development organizations across the state, industry groups, and companies to build talent pipelines that clearly position our state as a global leader in talent attraction and retention.”
Funding for this research was provided by the Fakhoury Global Immigration, OpTech Solutions, and the William Davidson Foundation, while pro bono research services were provided by One Magnify. Learn more about Global Detroit at globaldetroitmi.org and view the full report here.