International students in US at new record high

17, November, 2014

The number of international students in higher education in the USA increased by 8.1 per cent to a new record high of 886,052 in the 2013/14 academic year, the eighth consecutive year of growth, according to the annual Open Doors data released by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

Source: Open Doors 2014, the Institute of International Education

The 8.1 per cent increase – an additional 66,408 students compared with 2012/13 – is the largest single rise in the last eight years of growth. A 7.5 per cent rise in the number of new international students enrolled in 2013/14 indicates further growth is likely over the coming years.

China remains comfortably the largest source country with 274,439 students, an increase of 16.5 per cent compared with the previous year, while India in second place grew by 6.1 per cent. Korea remains the third largest source country, despite a continuing downward trajectory with a 3.7 per cent drop. The top three countries combined represent over half of all international students in the USA.

China and Saudi Arabia – which increased by 21 per cent and remains the fourth largest sender – together accounted 73 per cent of the total increase. However, seven of the top 10 source countries and 20 of the top 25 recorded increases.

The largest increase within the top 25 came from Kuwait, which sent an additional 2,173 students – a 42.3 rise compared with the previous year. An expansion of the Kuwaiti government scholarship scheme was cited by IIE as the reason for the increase. The Middle East and North Africa was the fastest growing region in 2013/14 with a 20 per cent increase.

Along with Saudi Arabia, the other large-scale scholarship scheme showing considerable impact in the data is Brazil, which increased by 22.2 per cent and entered the top ten source countries.

“International experience is one of the most important components of a 21st century education, and study abroad should be viewed as an essential element of a college degree,” said IIE President, Dr Allan E Goodman. “Learning how to study and work with people from other countries and cultures also prepares future leaders to contribute to making the world a less dangerous place.”

In 2013/14 New York University became the largest host institution with 11,164 students, overtaking the University of Southern California, which had topped the list for 12 consecutive years. The top 25 host institutions housed 22 per cent of all international students.

California remains the largest host state, with 121,647 international students, a 9.2 per cent increase, followed by New York and Texas. All of the top ten states recorded increases and across the country 41 states had more international students than in the previous year.

In terms of international students’ funding for college and university programmes in the USA: 574,129 students were self or family funded – ­64.7 per cent of the total, a slight increase over 63.6 per cent last year; 19.3 per cent were funded by scholarships from their US institution; 7.5 per cent received scholarships from a foreign government or institution; and 5.6 per cent were funded by their current employer.

International students contributed more than US$27 billion to the US economy in the 2013/14 academic year, according to the US Department of Commerce.

The Open Doors report also measures outbound mobility from the US, and there was a 2.1 per cent increase in the 2012/2013 academic year. The UK remains the most popular destination, accounting for 36,210 American students, 12.5 per cent of the total and a 4.5 per cent rise compared with the previous year. Italy, Spain, France and China complete the top five, although the latter had a 3.2 per cent decrease despite high-profile campaigns to encourage American study in China.

The Open Doors report was released on the occasion of the 15th annual International Education Week, a joint initiative by the US Department of State and Department of Education to prepare Americans for a global environment and attract international students. Since the inaugural event in 2000, there are five times as many Chinese students in the US and ten times as many Saudi students, IIE said.

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