US international student intake reaches record high

The number of international students in US higher education has reached an all-time high according to an authoritative report

November 11, 2013

Some 819,644 foreign students were enrolled in US colleges and universities in the 2012-13 academic year, an increase of 7 per cent on the previous 12 months, figures from the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange show.

It is the seventh consecutive year that the report has recorded an expansion in the number of US-based international students, and there are now 40 per cent more than in 2003. International students’ spending contributed approximately $24 billion (£15 billion) to the US economy, the report says.

The top 5 countries of origin of the US’s international recruits are China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Canada. Enrolments from China alone have increased by 21 per cent in total and by 26 per cent at the undergraduate level.

Produced by the Institute of Educational Education, in partnership with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the report also reveals that 283,000 US nationals were studying abroad in 2011-12 (the most recent data available), which represents another record high.

There was a 4.5 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of US students coming to the UK to study, with a total of 34,660 attending domestic institutions. This was a relatively healthy rise given the previous year had seen only a 1.5 per cent increase in UK-based US students.

Despite the increase, American students studying abroad still represent a small proportion of total enrolment in US higher education, and less than 10 per cent of those receiving undergraduate degrees this year studied abroad at some point during their programme.

President of the IEE Allan E. Goodman welcomed the news that more international students than ever were attending US institutions, but bemoaned the fact that 90 per cent of American undergraduates still do not study abroad.

“We need to increase substantially the number of US students who go abroad so that they too can gain the international experience which is so vital to career success and deepening mutual understanding,” he said.

Top 5 US institutions for international enrolments

University of Southern California9,840
University of Ilinois (Urbana-Champaign)9,804
Purdue University (main campus)9,509
New York University9,362
Columbia University8,797

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