India sent more students to college in the United States in 2004-05 than did any other country in the world, says a report by the Institute of International Education.
As many as 80,466 of the foreign students who were enrolled in American colleges last academic year were Indian, followed by 62,523 Chinese students and 53,358 from South Korea, according to the report, released Nov. 14 by the New York City-based nonprofit that promotes closer educational ties between the United States and the rest of the world.
Altogether, of the nearly 14 million students enrolled in U.S. higher education institutions, 565,000, or 4 percent, were foreign students. Indians made up about 14 percent of the foreign-student enrollment.
The study found that overall foreign enrollment in the United States dropped by 1.3 percent in 2004-05, although the percentage of Indian students had increased by 0.9 percent since the previous school year.
The number of Indian students in U.S. colleges began rising dramatically in 1997-98, when enrollment jumped by 30 percent. In 2001-02, India surpassed China as the foreign country sending the most students to the United States.
Peggy Blumenthal, the executive vice president of the IIE, said that the growth of the Indian economy in the 1990s has led to an increase in the number of citizens with disposable income, which, in turn, enabled more Indians to send their children abroad for an education.
“Expanding business connections with U.S. firms also made it a career enhancer to come back with an American degree,” she said.
The report says a majority of the Indian students, 72 percent, were enrolled in graduate courses, while 20 percent were in undergraduate courses. Eight percent are in optional practical training, non-degree programs or intensive English language programs. Although the IIE report does not say how many Indian students entered engineering, it was the second-most-popular major among international students, after business and management. Ms. Blumenthal said Indian students tend to gravitate toward engineering, computer science, and mathematics.
The Institute of International Education has more information on “Open Doors 2005: International Students in the United States.”
Her organization is hoping to increase the numbers of Americans attending India’s universities by working with the Indian University Grants Commission and the Fulbright Commission, which sponsors student-abroad programs.
“Right now, barely 1,000 students go to India,” Ms. Blumenthal said, adding that even most of those Americans are enrolled only in semester-long programs.