Print Friendly and PDF

New Data on International Student Retention Released

July 12, 2016, Detroit, Michigan — Corporate and regional economic leaders joined university officials to learn about the Michigan Global Talent Retention Initiative’s (GTRI) data on international student retention in Michigan. The “Filling the Talent Gap” report is an update to GTRI’s 2013 study of the use of the Optional Practical Training (OPT) portion of international student visas at seven key Michigan universities.

“GTRI, the nation’s first international student retention program, leads the nation in tracking this kind of data and the ‘Filling the Talent Gap’ report only underscores the tremendously important role that international students play in strengthening and growing Metro Detroit’s economy, “ notes Global Detroit Director Steve Tobocman.

Findings of the “Filling the Talent Gap” report include:

  • Hiring of international students from GTRI universities through the OPT program by Michigan employers grew more than 80% over the past four years
  • The number of international students studying in Michigan grew 32.2% over the past five years and now tops 32,000 and represents over $1 billion in annual economic activity
  • 40-70% of all the graduate students in the U.S. studying in STEM-related fields are international students (70.3% of electrical engineering, 63.2% of computer science)
  • The international students using OPT from GTRI universities have mostly attained graduate degrees (82%) and predominate STEM fields (68%), making them some of the world’s most valuable workers

“Data like this is more than impressive,” noted Sandy Baruah, President and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “We know that utilizing international students rather than allowing positions to go unfilled helps companies compete and grow. And while our region is leading the nation in helping employers to consider international talent for hard-to-fill positions, more needs to be done.”

The “Filling the Talent Gap” report release was timed with a national campaign to highlight the contributions and economic potential of international student retention spearheaded by the Welcoming Economies (WE) Global Network. According to research from the American Enterprise Institute and the Partnership for a New American Economy each foreign-born STEM worker with an advanced U.S. degree creates an additional 2.62 American jobs. In addition to GTRI’s “Filling the Talent Gap” report, new data was released by St. Louis Mosaic, another WE Global member organization, on how international student talent is well position to fill unmet talent needs in the St. Louis labor market.

About Global Detroit

Global Detroit is revitalizing Metro Detroit’s economy by mobilizing its immigrant potential.

We are nationally-recognized as an innovator and expert in leveraging international talent to fill regional businesses’ unmet talent needs, catalyzing the growth and development of immigrant entrepreneurs, and building a global region with competitive advantages in job creation, business growth, and community development.

Global Detroit has launched leading-edge programs in international student talent retention, professional talent connection, immigrant entrepreneurship, and neighborhood revitalization. Through our partnerships with local businesses, public sector leaders, nonprofit organizations, and the community we are employing over $8 million in philanthropic, corporate, and public sector investments to revitalize our region.

In 2010, Global Detroit released a study and strategy to help Metro Detroit’s economic recovery by welcoming and integrating immigrant talent and entrepreneurship. The study, funded by local foundations and the Detroit Regional Chamber, outlined eleven strategies. In addition to its local efforts, Global Detroit has spearheaded the creation of the Welcoming Economies Global Network (WE Global), a ten-state regional collaborative of 18 peer local immigrant economic development initiatives across the Rust Belt.

For further information, or to follow Global Detroit on Facebook and Twitter, go to and for additional information on WE Global go to

About the Michigan Global Talent Retention Initiative (GTRI)

The Michigan Global Talent Retention Initiative (GTRI) was launched out of the Global Detroit study in 2011 and focused on retaining international students in Southeastern Michigan to help employers fill unmet talent needs. GTRI is a program of Global Detroit and includes the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, UM-Dearborn, Eastern Michigan University, Lawrence Tech, and Oakland University, as well as several regional economic development and business partners, including the Detroit Regional Chamber.

For more information on GTRI, go to