International students spend millions in state

HONOLULU — International students studying in Hawai‘i spent an estimated $185 million in the state last year, a state report indicates.

That figure blooms to $381.2 million in economic output generated when direct, indirect and induced spending is calculated.

The figures are from a report, The Economic Impact of International Students in Hawai‘i: Calendar Year 2019.

The report was produced by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism’s Research and Economic Analysis Division in collaboration with the department’s Business Development and Support Division and the Study Hawai‘i Educational Consortium.

Estimates in this report were based on the Hawai‘i International Education Survey conducted between May and September, which covered data for calendar year 2019. The data does not reflect the economic impact of international students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The direct spending of $185 million included tuition, fees and living expenses. Based on this direct impact, the economic impacts of international student expenditures for calendar year 2019 were as follows:

• $381.2 million in economic output generated, including direct, indirect, and induced effects;

• $29.2 million in state taxes generated;

• $168.4 million in household income generated;

• 3,756 jobs supported by international student spending.

The overall average annual per-student spending was $13,838, including living expenses, tuition and fees across all programs.

The University of Hawai‘i’s 10-campus system accounted for about 45.5% of the direct spending and total economic output generated.

“International students have positively contributed to Hawai‘i and our economy for many years,” said DBEDT Director Mike McCartney.

“They have helped to expand our marketing and promotion efforts to reinforce the message that Hawai‘i is a place where the world comes to learn,” he said.

“In 2019 these students brought an international perspective to our communities as well as spending, tax revenue and jobs to our state. The growth of this industry sector is one of the strategic initiatives we intend to pursue for the state’s economic diversification and expansion.”

“While the COVID pandemic has added a pause to travel to Hawai‘i, we are confident that international students will continue to seek educational opportunities in the state in the near future,” said Dennis Ling, DBEDT’s BDSD administrator.

“Our department hopes to continue its efforts to attract international students to the state once the pandemic is controlled.”

The 2020 survey received responses from 44 of Hawai‘i’s educational institutions, covering data for the 2019 calendar year. The responding institutions for the current survey represented 13,371 international students.


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