USA overseas student growth accelerates

16 November, 2015

The number of international students at colleges and universities in the USA increased by 10 per cent to a new record high in 2014/15, the highest yearly growth rate recorded for 35 years, according to the latest figures released by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

Top ten places of origin of international students in the USA, 2014/15. Credit: 2015 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, the Institute of International Education (IIE)

The 2015 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange shows there were 974,926 international students in the 2014/15 academic year, while new international student enrolments increased by 8.8 per cent compared with the previous year, to 293,766.

2014/15 was the ninth successive year of growth in international students and the first double-digit increase in that period.

“We are excited to see that record numbers of students are taking advantage of international education opportunities,” said Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, Evan Ryan. “We applaud the efforts of US higher education, as we work together to welcome more international students to our campuses, and to increase the number of American students from diverse backgrounds who study abroad.”

China remains comfortably the largest source country, and Chinese student numbers grew by 10.8 per cent to 304,040, some 31.2 per cent of all overseas students in the country. Indian students, the second largest nationality, jumped by 29.4 per cent to 132,888 – the highest single year of growth it has recorded since Open Doors data commenced. Korean, Saudi and Canadian completed the top five nationalities.

The 2014/15 overall increase was driven by the top two sources countries as well as a number of government scholarship-driven markets: Brazil (78.2 per cent), which is now the sixth largest source country, Kuwait (24 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (11.2). However, the recent suspension of Brazil’s Science Without Borders programme is likely to curtail future Brazilian growth.

Four of the top 10 source countries declined in 2014/15 (Korea, Canada, Taiwan and Japan), and a further three countries in the top 25 sent less students last year.

Forty-four American states, including the 10 largest host states, registered an increase in international students in 2014/15, with California remaining the largest host with 135,130 students – an 11.1 per cent rise – followed by New York and Texas.

For the second year running, New York University was the most prolific host with 13,178 international students, followed by the University of Southern California. Eight institutions had over 10,000 overseas scholars.

International students now represent 4.8 per cent of all students at US colleges and campuses, the highest ratio recorded but well below competitor destinations such as the UK and Australia.

The Open Doors report also tracks the number of American students studying abroad for academic credit, which increased by 5.2 per cent in 2013/14 to 304,467. The UK remained the most popular destination, accounting for 38,250 students, 12.6 per cent of the total.

Most of the top 25 destinations received more American students in 2013/14, although numbers heading to China decreased, despite high-profile government campaigns to encourage study in the country.

“International experience is one of the most important components of a 21st century education,” said IIE President Dr. Allan E. Goodman. “Studying abroad is one of the best ways for students to gain the international experience necessary to succeed in today’s global workforce. And studying in another country prepares students to be real contributors to working across borders to address key issues in the world we share.”

Matthew Knott
News Editor


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