On Thursday a lot of international students at the University of Tennessee will get their first taste of a Thanksgiving dinner. Tennessee's economy has plenty of reason to give thanks for a surge of students from abroad.

"For the state of Tennessee for this past fall, we had an almost 16 percent increase in the amount of international students enrolled at all of the universities in the state," said Joann Ng Hartmann, Associate Director of the UT Center for International Education. "It's the research opportunities that are attracting them, specifically here at the University of Tennessee."

In the 2013-2014 academic year, there were 8,436 international students enrolled at institutions in Tennessee. Of those foreign students, there were 1,156 at UT's Knoxville campus. That's a 24 percent enrollment increase compared to a decade ago in 2004.

An economic study by The Institute of International Education says foreign students contributed a net amount of more than $242 million dollars to Tennessee's economy last school year.

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