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USA – Increase in international student numbers

The number of international students in the USA hits a new record high according to a report recently published by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in partnership with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange presents a broad picture of incoming student mobility to the US as well as data on US students studying overseas

In the academic year 2012/13 the number of international students enrolled in US higher education institutions increased to 819 644 which represents a 7.2 % growth in comparison to last year. Yet, the total share of international students amounts to 3.9 % of 21 253 000 students in the US. As in the past years, China remains the biggest sending country with a 28.7 % share of all international students. In numbers 235 597 Chinese students chose the US as study destination – an increase in 21.4 %. India (96 754) and South Korea (70 627) likewise keep their position as second and third most important sending countries though both show an insignificant decline of 3.5 % and 2.3 %, respectively. In absolute numbers, almost 10 000 more Saudi Arabian students – 44 566 in 2012/13 – came to the US for studies.

The main fields of study chosen by international students are business and management (21.8 %), engineering (18.8 %), maths and computer science (9.5 %), social sciences (8.9 %), and physical and life sciences (8.4 %). The Open Doors Report also reveals that the vast majority (63.6 %) of international students has to rely on personal and family income and savings as their primary source of funding. Overall, 20.7 % of international students consider U.S. College of University support as their primary source of funding, whereas 7.1 % of students receive support form their home government or home university. Finally, 5.3 % benefit from financial support of their current employer.

While incoming mobility has experienced a real boom over the last years, outgoing mobility of US students still remains rather limited. Admittedly, the number of outgoing US students has tripled over the last two decades. However, study abroad is still a rare practice in the US, with only 1.4 % of US students studying abroad. Accounting for more than half of all outgoing US students, Europe remains the most attractive destination for US overseas students, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (15.8 %) as well as Asia (12.4 %). Top destinations in Europe include the United Kingdom (12.2 %), Italy (10.5 %), Spain (9.3 %), France (6.1 %) and Germany (3.3 %). China hosts 5.3 % of all outgoing US students and is ranked the fifth most chosen US study abroad destination. 

IIE - Press release

IIE - Open Doors data