More Foreign Students Enrolling In American Universities

By Staff
November 17, 2009

A new report released this week indicates that international student enrollment at U.S. colleges and universities is at an all-time high.

The annual "Open Doors" study by the Institute of International Education, which publishes the report with the help of the State Department, concluded that the number of international students increased by 8 percent to 671,616 undergraduates in 2008-9. The percentage is the largest increase since 1980-81.

The news is particularly heartening during these difficult economic times, said Allan E. Goodman, president of the institute, who was quoted in The New York Times.

"International education is domestic economic development," he said. "International students shop at the local Wal-Mart, rent rooms and buy food. Foreign students bring $17.8 billion to this country. A lot of campuses this year are increasing their international recruitment, trying to keep their programs whole by recruiting international students to fill their spaces."

India sent the most students to the United States to study--103,260, or just over 15 percent of all international students. But China came in second at 98,235 students, or just under 15 percent, marking a dramatic 21 percent increase since the year before.

Inside Higher Ed notes that the American institutions which enroll the most foreign students are all research universities. Included among the top five are the University of Southern California, New York University, Columbia University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Purdue University.

While the study's results are encouraging on the whole, Inside Higher Ed points out that the figures do not reflect the effects of the recession, since the data is not recent enough. A more recent survey of 700 colleges indicated that many institutions are not seeing increases in international enrollment, with many citing factors such as the world economy and swine flu. In all, 45 percent of colleges reported an increase, 29 percent reported declines and 26 percent reported no significant change.

The Open Doors study also indicated that a record 262,416 American students studied abroad in 2007-8, marking an 8.5 percent increase over the previous year. USA Today reports that according to the study, "it is likely that trends toward less expensive destinations and shorter stays will continue, reflecting the effects of the economy."

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