Where are all these students coming from?

By Davey Young at A.C.E.–A recent report by the Institute of International Education assesses the numbers behind international higher education students in the United States. The data below matches the following pattern: (1) rank, (2) country of origin, (3) student numbers for the 2007/2008 academic year, (4) percentage of total international students, (5) percentage of change from previous year.

1. India | 94,563 | 15.2 | 12.8
2. China | 81,127 | 13.0 | 19.8
3. S. Korea | 69,124 | 11.1 | 10.8
4. Japan | 33,974 | 5.4 | -3.7
5. Canada | 29,051 | 4.7 | 2.7
6. Taiwan | 29,001 | 4.6 | -0.3
7. Mexico | 14,837 | 2.4 | 7.3
8. Turkey | 12, 030 | 1.9 | 4.6
9. S. Arabia | 9,873 | 1.6 | 25.2
10. Thailand | 9,004 | 1.4 | 1.3

Now let’s highlight some significant pieces of this data. Only the top three represent more than 10% of the total body of international higher ed students in the U.S. No. 4, Japan, shows less than half of the No. 3 South Korea. There is also a significant drop among total numbers between No. 6 Taiwan and No. 7 Mexico. Furthermore, the only two countries in the top ten which sent less students in 2007/2008 from 2006/2007 are Japan and Taiwan. Conversely, Saudi Arabia showed a 25.2% increase, and China, 19.8%. (Vietnam, no. 13 in the rankings tops this list with a 45% increase from 2006/2007, 20.1% more than No. 2 Saudi Arabia!)

But, you ask, where are these students going? Well, in 2007/2008, 371,233 were studying at doctorate-granting institutions, 114,449 students at MA granting colleges and universities, 27,261 students at BA only colleges and universities, 86,683 Associate’s only, and 24,179 Special Focus institutions (A.C.E. included). The report also found that Business and Management was the top field of study.

New York city was the top host city, but California was the top host state with 85,009 international students. Second place went to New York with 69,940, and third to Texas with 51,823. Washington state came in 11th with 14,170 students, and Montana 46th with 1,153. I can tell you with pride that A.C.E. at MSU hosted 167 of those students. That’s 14.5% of all the international students in the state!

Some other pertinent information to consider comes from the report titled ‘Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and Other G-8 Countries: 2009’ published by the National Center for Educational Statistics in March. This report found that the United States overwhelmingly hosted more international students than any other nation, topping out at 20% of all the international higher ed students in the world. However, only 3.3% of students in our universities are international, which is dwarfed by the United Kingdom (17.9%), Canada (14.6%), Germany (11.4%) and France (11.2%). Then again, these numbers make sense when one thinks about how many American students stay in country after high school. That may not be so for long, though, as the U.S. House just passed the Simon Study Abroad Act, which will quadruple the number of American students studying abroad if cleared by the Senate.

And now I ask you: what region do you think will be the next hotbed for international educational and cultural exchange with the United States? If you’re reading this, you probably bring some personal or professional knowledge to the table and are encouraged to post a comment to accompany your vote. If you need a little more back-story first, read the post from last Thursday, June 11th. Thanks for playing!

One Comment on “Where are all these students coming from?

  1. Pingback: International Students Contribute $17.6 Billion to U.S. Economy « ACEBook – Associates in Cultural Exchange Blog

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