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US Universities Home to Record Number of Foreign Students

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 16 2015 (IPS) - The number of international students in US colleges and universities has continued to increase, reaching nearly one million in the current 2014-2015 academic year, according to the latest figures released by the International Institute of Education (IIE).

The largest number of foreign students are from India, China and Brazil, with Latin America as “the fastest growing region” attracting students to US educational institutions.

International students’ spending in all 50 states contributed more than 30 billion dollars to the U.S. economy in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce

The 2015 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released Monday, points out that the number of international students had the highest rate of growth in 35 years, increasing by ten percent to a record high of 974,926 students in the 2014/15 academic year.

“This strong growth confirms that the United States remains the destination of choice in higher education.”

The United States, which has total population of over 319 million people, hosts more of the world’s 4.5 million globally mobile college and university students than any other country in the world, almost double the number hosted by the United Kingdom, the second leading host country, according to the report.

The Open Doors ® report, which is published annually by the IIE in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, says there were 88,874 more international students enrolled in U.S. higher education in 2014-2015 compared to the previous year.

India, China and Brazil account for most of the growth in international students on U.S. campuses.

While China remains the top country of origin of international students in the U.S., increasing by 11 percent to 304,040, India’s growth outpaced China’s this year, with students from India increasing by 29.4 percent to a record high of 132,888.

This is the highest rate of growth for Indian students in the history of the Open Doors project, which spans back to 1954/55.

The last time India grew at a comparable rate (29.1) was in 2000/01 when the number of students from India exceeded 50,000 for the first time.

In 2014/15, China and India together accounted for 67 percent of the increase in international students, and they now constitute nearly 45 percent of the total number of international students in U.S. higher education.

“We are excited to see that record numbers of students are taking advantage of international education opportunities, and we applaud the efforts of U.S. higher education as we work together to increase the number of American students who study abroad,” said Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

“It is critical that we continue to make study abroad more accessible. These exchanges strengthen ties between the United States and countries around the world. By increasing accessibility to study abroad, we are investing in our future and providing a forum to solve global challenges.”

The report also found the number of U.S. students studying abroad increased by five percent in 2013/14, the highest rate of growth since before the 2008 economic downturn.

While study abroad by American students has more than tripled in the last two decades, reaching a new high of 304,467, still only about 10 percent of U.S. students study abroad before graduating from college.

Meanwhile, the report also said there were large increases in the number of students from Brazil, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, all countries whose governments are investing heavily in international scholarships for their students, sending tens of thousands of them abroad to develop a globally competent workforce.

Nigeria also ranked among the fastest growing international student populations in the United States.

Students from Brazil increased 78 percent to 23,675 this year, accounting for 12 percent of total growth.

According to the report, Latin America & the Caribbean was the fastest growing region of origin for international students in the U.S., increasing by 19 percent over the prior year, and benefiting from the support of 100,000 Strong in the Americas, a public-private partnership led by the U.S. State Department, as well as other initiatives launched by governments in the region.

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