By Matthew Knott, News Editor of StudyTravel Magazine

It is that time of the year when the sheer scale of the international education industry in the USA is shouted from the rooftops.

This week we have the news of the Open Doors 2015 report on recruitment from the Institute of International Education (IIE), which shows that there were a record 974,926 international students at colleges and universities in the country in the 2014/15 academic year.

Moreover, the rate of growth is accelerating: 7.2 per cent in 2012/13, 8.1 per cent in 2013/14, and 10 per cent in the most recent report – the highest annual increase for 35 years.

Why is the US doing so well? As the world’s largest economy, the country will always be a magnet for mobile students. But the favourable post-study work arrangements for international graduates from the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects – arrangements that look set to be extended – are certainly a factor, as the participation rates in the Optional Practical Training (OPT) scheme would suggest.

India has been a booming market over recent years and accounted for almost a third of the increased total. Clearly the US has benefitted from the UK’s loss of market share in India following its removal of post-study work rights.

China continues to grow and added another 30,000 students in the last year, and a good proportion of the remainder of the increase came from government-funded schemes: the US is a clear preferred destination for outbound scholarship programmes, such as those in Brazil (up 78 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (up 11 per cent).

And surely the Nacac approval of commission-based recruitment of international students though agents has had some impact on the acceleration of growth.

A related news story shows that Nafsa estimates the value of these students to the US economy was some US$30.5 billion last year. Around half of the countries in the world don’t have a total GDP that large, according to International Monetary Fund figures!    

It is worth noting that this figure only relates to tertiary enrolment, and does not even factor in the extensive scale of the country’s language school sector – which you can read about in the annual Global Market Report article on the ELT sector in the forthcoming December issue of StudyTravel Magazine.

On a far more sombre note, we are very saddened to report on the sudden death of English UK Chief Executive, Eddie Byers this week, and our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues.

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