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United States: International student numbers continue to rise

In November, ACA’s member from the United States (US), the Institute of International Education (IIE), released Open Doors 2012 – the annual survey results of student mobility into and out of the US. The report indicates a 6% increase in the number of international students at colleges and universities in the US and a 1% increase of US study abroad students in 2011/12. The continuous increase over the last year brought both the number of international students studying in the US (764 495) and the number of US study abroad students (273 996) to record high. However, these all-time high numbers represent, still, less than 4% of total US higher education enrolment and 1% of US students in a single academic year, respectively.  Also, for the first time in 12 years, 2011/12 sees more international undergraduate students than international graduate students in the US, thanks to another double-digit growth in the number of undergraduate students from the top place of origin – China (+31%) – but also from Saudi Arabia (+31%). At the same time, the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) reported an 8% increase in the first-time enrolment of international graduate students from 2011 to 2012. In other words, the overall pie has been growing with new recruits at the undergraduate level and from non-traditional places of origin, despite continuous declines observed in traditional leading places of origin:  India, South Korea, Canada, Taiwan and Japan.

On the outgoing front, diversification of countries of destination for US study abroad students was also observed. There were significant increases in the number of US study abroad students in non-traditional destinations outside Europe, particularly Brazil (+12.5%), India (+12%), China (+5%), Costa Rica (+16%) and South Korea (+16%) in 2010/11 (the latest year for which data are available). China alone received 14 596 US study abroad students, being the fifth largest host destination outside Europe. Having said that, “Europe” remained the most popular destination for US study abroad students, with 136 952 US students (50% of the total) studying in 11 leading European destinations. Continuous growth was also registered in traditional top destinations: the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain.

National scholarship programmes (e.g. the “100 000 Strong Initiative” and Saudi Government scholarships), branch campuses and joint degree partnerships were reported to be the major forces driving changes in the flows of student mobility.

Institute of International Education – Press release Institute of International Education - Report Council of Graduate Schools