By Matthew Knott, News Editor of Study Travel Magazine

It is no secret that the USA is the world’s most popular study abroad destination – certainly at higher education level and also within the ELT industry in 2012, according to the results of Study Travel Magazine’s last global market report.

Nonetheless, today’s news story acts as a sharp reminder of the sheer scale of our industry. According to quarterly data released by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, based on data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, there are currently over 1,000,000 international students in the USA on either F-1 or M-1 visas. This doesn’t take account of a further 188,000 students on the J-1 exchange programme, or short-term language students that don’t require a visa.

Moreover, there are some 8,930 accredited schools authorised to accept international students, although over 70 per cent of these have between only 0 and 50 students currently.

However, the data does reveal quite a heavy reliance on the Asian market, which accounts for 75 per cent of all international students in the USA. While figures are expected to rise for the coming years, a report on global trends in student mobility at higher education level earlier this year reflected on demographic changes that might reduce, or at least slow, the outbound flow of Chinese students.

There was a four per cent increase in students from South America in the SEVP data, but at 48,356 students the area remains a relatively small recruitment market for the USA. It is a region that Jean-Marc Alberola, President of global provider Bridge, said was “a new frontier” that needs to be explored in a recent news story in STM, with potential for study abroad growth in both directions, he added. Educators would be wise to explore that potential now.

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