City businesses see value in hiring foreign students after graduation

City encourages diversity of ideas and cultures; sees monetary benefits

city-businesses-foreignNearly 40 percent of foreign students who graduate from Oklahoma City metropolitan area colleges stay and get jobs here, a new study shows.

Based on data from 2008 to 2012, the Brookings report identifies 118 metro areas with the largest numbers of foreign students and measures their monetary contributions to their U.S. metropolitan destinations.

Oklahoma City ranked 28th with 8,576 students on the F-1 visa — the most common visa issued to foreigners studying in a full-time academic program. The top destination institutions were Oklahoma Christian University, Oklahoma City University, Southern Nazarene University, University of Central Oklahoma and University of Oklahoma.

Foreign students paid $113,073,309 in tuition and $70,156,544 in living costs.

The report — released Friday as part of the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of Brookings and JPMorgan Chase — suggested metropolitan leaders nationwide take steps to realize the full benefit foreign students bring. These include:

  • Leveraging foreign student connections with their home communities abroad to facilitate and deepen economic exchange.
  • Retaining foreign student skills by 1) developing programs to connect graduates to employers located in the school’s metropolitan area, 2) helping local employers obtain the necessary visas for foreign graduates with in-demand skills and 3) advocating for immigration reform to make more visas available for graduates who want to stay in the U.S.

“Foreign students are a significant source of earnings for U.S. metro economies in several ways,” said Neil Ruiz, associate fellow for the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and author of the report.

(Next page: Business leaders’ efforts to attract and retain)