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Open Doors 2009 – Record numbers

The annual Open Doors Report on international educational exchange – published by the Institute of International Education (IIE) on 16th November, 2009 – reports a record high of international students studying in the United States and as well as rising numbers of US student enrollment abroad. The number of international students in the United States increased by 8 percent to an all-time high of 671,616 in the academic year 2008/2009. Open Doors 2009 data also shows that the number of “new” international students, i.e. those enrolled for the first time in a US institution, has increased by 16 percent, following two years of 10 percent increases.

Some key figures highlighted by the report are:

  • There is continuity and change in the list of countries of origins. In the last eight years, India has remained the number one sending country, with China and South Korea following suit. Vietnam is catching up rapidly (46 % increase), moving from rank 20 to 9 within only two years. Saudi Arabia closes in on the top ten this year, as a result of the substantial investment in government funded scholarships for study in the US.
  • For the record number of US students studying abroad (up by 8.5 % to 262,416), China, Ireland, Austria and India have become a lot more attractive (all up about 20%). Within Europe the most popular countries were the UK, Italy, Spain and France.
  • According to the US Department of Commerce, international students contribute USD 17.8 billion to the US economy, through their expenditures on tuition and living expenses.

While this year’s increase in international student numbers is the largest - in percentage - in almost 20 years, it is only slightly higher as compared to last year’s growth rate. As the numbers do not yet show the full impact of the economic crisis, the challenge for the US remains to maintain and improve these results while facing the effects of the downturn and the threat of the H1N1 virus. Attracting international students will remain a priority, for which further financial aid and scholarships as well as intensive marketing activities are needed to ensure similarly positive results for the future.

Open Doors 2009