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The basics
THE USA: Latest News

Popular US destinations for international students

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“Young people who study abroad gain the global skills necessary to create solutions to 21st Century challenges. In turn, international students globalize our campuses and communities.” Ann Stock, US Assistant Secretary of State (R).  


The number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by five percent during the 2010/11 academic year, a recent report by the Institute of International Education (IIE) has revealed.

According to the Open Doors report, which is published annually by IIE in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the number of international students in the United States has reached an all-time high of 723,277.

There were strong increases in the number of students from a few countries, most notably China with 23 percent more students compared to the 2009/2010 period and Saudi Arabia with an increment of 44 percent. Other countries such as Vietnam, Iran, and Venezuela showed increases of more than 10 percent. Women represent approximately 45 percent of the total number of international students.

These strong increases have significant economic impact on the United States as, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, international students contribute more than US$21 billion to the U.S. economy, through their expenditures on tuition and living expenses.

In terms of international students’ sources of funding, the report revealed that 63 percent of them fund themselves from personal and family sources. When other sources of foreign funding are reported, such as assistance from their home country governments or universities, almost 70 percent of all international students’ primary funding, including tuition, comes from sources outside of the United States.

In terms of study destinations in the US, California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois remained as the top five most popular states among international students. Amid the top 10 host states, Ohio had the greatest percentage increase, with 10.5 percent more students coming to study in local universities.

The major reasons for the reported increases appear to be largely related to universities' continued active recruitment efforts, the growing reputation and visibility of U.S. campuses abroad, and an increased number of linkages with institutions in other countries. Universities and other academic institutions also noted an increase in the number of sponsored students and more foreign government scholarships; a change in their campus’ recruitment or admissions policies and processes; tuition discounts, scholarships, and financial aid.

Additionally, international enrolment at the undergraduate level increased by 6 percent.  This increase brings the number of undergraduate international students much closer to the number of graduate level international students at 296,574.

The top 10 most popular fields of study for international students in the United States were Business and Management (22 percent of total), Engineering (19 percent), Mathematics and Computer Science (9 percent), Physical and Life Sciences (9 percent), Social Sciences (9 percent), Fine & Applied Arts (5 percent), Health Professions (5 percent), Intensive English Language (5 percent), Education (2 percent), Humanities (2 percent), and Agriculture (1 percent).

Open Doors is a report produced by the Institute of International Education, the leading not-for-profit educational and cultural exchange organization in the United States. The census is based on a survey of approximately 3,000 accredited U.S. institutions which host international students.


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