“International Student Enrollments Rose Modestly in 2009/10, Led by Strong Increase in Students from China”

That’s the headline for the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) annual Open Doors Report. This doesn’t come as a shock to those in the know, however, as the American higher education system has been watching this trend for at least the past two years. (You can feel ACEbook’s finger on the pulse right here.) This year’s Open Doors report gives a wide and comprehensive view of the international student landscape in the United States from the 2009-10 academic year, and is definitely worth a full read.

In addition to this report, the IIE has also just released the results of a preliminary survey which “suggest[s] that both new and overall international student enrollments are likely to continue to grow at a similar or slightly higher rate of increase as last year. In this year’s survey, a larger percentage of institutions reported that they experienced an increase, and a smaller percentage reported declines, compared to the Fall 2009 snapshot survey.”

With regard to the population of Chinese students in particular, the Chronicle of Higher Education recently published an article about the increase. The story considers the various factors at work, includes several interviews, and frames the growth within a global context. Many people today are watching China’s economic star rise, which directly correlates with the increase in students the country is sending abroad. At many institutions, the number of Chinese students is buoying otherwise sagging numbers of international students. (Such a lopsided demographic is not without its dangers, however. An over reliance on a single-source student population makes the system vulnerable to contractions in that population.)

To help put all this information in perspective, consider a recent report released by NAFSA, the Association of International Educators, which found that last year international students contributed $18.8 billion to the U.S. Economy. As the global recession abates, colleges and universities around the country can expect a new boom in foreign enrollments.

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