Share of International Students in U.S. Grows Faster than Americans Abroad

By Caralee J. Adams — November 12, 2012 2 min read
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The number of international students studying at colleges and universities in the United States rose by 5.7 percent in 2011-2012, while U.S. students studying abroad increased by just 1.3 percent in 2010-2011 over the previous year, according to figures released today by the International Educational Exchange.

The 2012 Open Doors Report shows a record high 764,495 international students studying on U.S. campuses, with a 23 percent increase in Chinese students driving the growth. China tops the list, sending 194,029 students to the U.S. for college, representing one-quarter of all international students.

The second largest group of international students is from India (13 percent), followed by South Korea (9.5 percent), according to the New York-based IEE.

This year, for the first time, the number of international undergraduates (309,342) exceeds the number of foreign graduate students (300,430). Graduate school students from abroad increased by 1.3 percent, while undergraduate enrollment grew by 6.1 percent.

There are 31 percent more international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities than a decade ago. The IEE cites U.S. Department of Commerce figures showing this influx of international students contributes more than $22.7 billion to the U.S. economy.

The top institutions hosting international students were the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, New York University, Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and Columbia University in New York City.

As for U.S. students studying abroad, the IEE figures for the 2010-11 academic year show a record 273,996 students pursued college credit in other countries. The United Kingdom remains the leading destination, followed by Italy, Spain, France, and China.

There were also increases in the number of students studying in Costa Rica (16 percent), India (12 percedent), Spain (8.7 percent), and China (4.9 percent). Programs disrupted by the 2011 earthquake in Japan led to a 33 percent drop in U.S. students there. There was also a 42 percent decrease in U.S. students studying in Mexico.

Over the past two decades, study abroad by American students has more than tripled, Open Doors reports. Still, about 14 percent of American students receiving Bachelor’s degrees this past year have studied abroad at some point during their undergraduate programs.

IEE, an educational and cultural exchange organization, has conducted an annual statistical survey of international students in the United States since 1919.

A version of this news article first appeared in the College Bound blog.