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Groundbreaking Data: International Student Employment After Graduation



The NAFSA room was sold out; every seat taken.  

That morning we really weren’t sure what to expect with our session being held in the very furthest room on the 3rd floor of the New Orleans Convention Center. And that convention center is one of the largest we’ve ever seen. Like, you need an Uber to get from one end to the other. 

We could not have been more thrilled with the turn out. What everyone came for: new data, never before collected, on what international students are doing after they earn a US degree. 

What’s been missing from our community’s conversation on the value of US degrees for international students is real ROI. Sure, we talk about ROI: “94% of our students are employed or pursuing advanced degrees 6 months from graduation.” But we’ve never quantified actual ROI...until now.  

Today we’re sharing a preview of new research on the career progress of international students who graduated from US institutions. (The full report will publish later this summer. Be among the first to receive this and 2 other groundbreaking reports by pre-registering here. You’ll also get our NAFSA 2024 session slides.)  

This NAFSA research report will be the first of what will become an even deeper analysis based on more research between now and 2025. We want to truly understand what a US degree produces for international students. Is it worth their investment? Is it worth ours? This is data we’ve been wanting to mine for years.   

Our next opportunities to meet! 

GMAC Annual Conference, New Orleans, June 19 – 21, 2024. Ben will be presenting on how global elections are influencing student mobility. More than just the US presidential election has the power to upend what students will choose to do next.  

EducationUSA, Washington, D.C., July 30-August 1. Ben and Viginia Commonwealth University SIO Jill Blondin will share insights on Navigating Budget Challenges in International Recruitment: Practical Strategies for Every Phase.  

Be in touch! We’ll buy the coffee. 

I was extremely honored to have presented our latest research at NAFSA last week alongside Dr. Joanna Regulska, vice provost and dean of global affairs at UC Davis. UC Davis is one of the 12 innovative and forward-thinking institutions participating in this groundbreaking study. 

Our research involved a 22-question survey sent to international students who graduated from our 12 university partners between 2019 and 2023 (see below for the full list). With a 5.3% response rate, 1,797 graduates from 131 countries answered our survey questions. Of these, 1,323 still reside in the US, 474 live elsewhere. 

What we learned will have a direct impact on international student recruitment, as well as offer perspective on US immigration policy. Data informs how we make sense of the world and move forward as a community and a society. The data collected encourages us to understand the value of CPT/OPT to our international students and the US.  

Laid bare: the real outcomes and the positive impact international student graduates are having on the US economy.  

For those of you interested in taking part in our next survey, be in touch at info@intead.com. So many of our higher ed colleagues at the conference raised their hands to evaluate participating in the next research phase of this project. Be a part of that! 

Below we share key takeaways from our research and provide you quick access to the slides from our NAFSA presentation. Read on... 


So, let’s get into it. We’ll start with Austin, Texas. Among our initial findings we learned that the median salary of our survey respondents who work as software developers in Austin – as many prospective students aspire to do – earn a median salary of $131,000. This salary falls between the US Department of Labor’s Level 3 and Level 4 Prevailing Wage bands.  

You’re already seeing the recruitment messaging opportunities, right? Standing at a student fair in Hyderabad and getting the question, “What kind of job will I get when I graduate?” The kinds of concrete data you can now offer – real outcomes, real jobs, real salaries, based on real data.  

This is the start of something really big. 

Groundbreaking Data Deck: International Student Employment After Graduation 

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Many of you know Brad Farnsworth who was with ACE and a leader of the ACE Internationalization Lab. Brad, now principal of Fox Hollow Advisory, was our partner in conducting this research and we owe him tremendous thanks for helping to make this research happen. The amazing Intead data crunching team wrestled all the data to the ground and are helping us figure out what it all means. 

This study initiative could not have gotten off the ground without the support of the tremendous NAFSA team. Jill Allen Murray’s leadership, Heather Stewart, Erica Stewart, Rachel Banks, Tammy Hettinger all provided essential input. And, of course, Dr. Fanta Aw’s vision blessing our work. 

A BIG thank you to the 12 institutions who took part in this inaugural effort:  

  • California State University, San Bernardino 
  • University of California, Davis 
  • University of Redlands 
  • University of Kansas 
  • Wichita State University 
  • Washburn University 
  • Ottaway University, KS 
  • University of Texas, Austin 
  • University of Texas, North Texas 
  • University of Houston 
  • Southern Methodist University 
  • Salem State University 

This research has been a labor of love. Can’t wait to share the full report. We are gathering a power set of US institutions to participate in Phase II of our research in the coming months. So much to look forward to. Is your institution going to be a forward-thinker with us? 

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