The excitement over large companies such as Netflix and 3D Glass recently choosing to grow their businesses in Albuquerque is deeply felt. It means more jobs, money spent, increased tax revenues and the list goes on. But unknown to many business experts is a similar economic driver that already exists at The University of New Mexico and it isn’t so much of a what, but a who. 

Recently Forbes magazine published an article discussing how three domestic jobs are created for every seven international students in the U.S. and the National Foundation for American Policy published a report that shows more than 50 percent of America’s $1 billion dollar start-ups are started by foreign nationals

“According to the latest data, there are 3,426 international students enrolled at various institutions in New Mexico, supporting 924 jobs, with a total financial contribution to our state’s economy of $95.7 million,” said Pablo Torres, associate director for UNM International Recruitment & Admissions.

UNM is home to about 46 percent of the state’s international student population with 1,500 students and scholars from 104 countries. 

Nationwide, international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities contributed $39 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than 455,000 jobs during the 2017-2018 academic year according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators’ latest analysis.

Still, New Mexico ranks 43rd in the nation for the number of international students and numbers across the U.S. have been declining due to recent U.S. policy changes that make it more difficult for students and scholars to enter, study, and work in the U.S. as well as increased international competition in the higher education market.

“The value that international students and scholars bring extends beyond the economic impact, by infusing our classrooms and community with creativity, alternate perspectives, and cross-cultural ideas that drive innovation,” said Nicole Tami, UNM executive director for global education initiatives. “As we work to develop our state economy and address a rapidly shifting educational landscape, our international population is part of a comprehensive solution.”

Tami sees higher education as a key player in driving economic development, which reaches beyond UNM into the Albuquerque community and broader state.

The UNM Global Education Office is focused on expanding UNM’s global outreach and engagement. Based on the most recent statistics, top enrolling countries at UNM include China, India and Nepal.

“We find that most international students choose UNM for the combination of well-ranked programs at an affordable cost,” said Torres. “In a time when competition for international students is on a global scale, UNM has something unique to offer. It’s a matter of spreading the word.”

UNM GEO is part of the newly developed campus Enrollment Task Force, engaging in targeted recruitment and marketing activities with UNM’s schools and colleges, and in 2020 will host the International Association for College Admissions Counseling conference at UNM, which will bring over 1,400 international admissions professionals from around the world to our state. 

“These activities will help us build our brand, engage campus stakeholders, and drive enrollment potential,” said Torres. “The more global our campus, the more vibrant our community can be.”

International Education Week 

The UNM Global Education Office (GEO) is celebrating International Education Week (IEW) Nov. 12–16. The week highlights globally-focused community events such as interactive activities, cultural performances, talks, and exhibits. 

IEW is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education is an effort to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences.

Events held on UNM campus are free to the public. Some community events carry an entrance fee. Visit to see the full calendar of events with details.