U.S. international student enrolment growing

Enrolment and retention rates remain significant challenges for colleges across the U.S., leading to a growing trend of foreign student enrolments in U.S. higher education institutions. The bulk of international students coming to the US still come from China. In 2013-14, nearly 275,000 Chinese students studied at US undergraduate and graduate universities, an increase of almost 17 percent from the prior year. But several other countries also saw double-digit increases, including Kuwait (an increase of 43 percent), Brazil (22 percent), Saudi Arabia (21 percent), Iran (17 percent), and Venezuela (14 percent). Many of those increases were due to scholarship programs put in place by the country of origin.


Centre for Interactive Education - CIE Global

Britain remains the most popular destination for US students studying abroad, followed by Italy, Spain, France, and China. But several other destinations saw double-digit growth, including South Africa, Denmark, South Korea, Peru, and Thailand.

“One of the most striking findings for us was the fact that, yes, we have very large numbers from China, but that should not overshadow the fact that we’re seeing a lot of growth from many other countries,” said Rajika Bhandari,  deputy vice president for research and evaluation, Institute of International Education. 

From 2011 to 2021, NCES projects a rise of 13 percent in enrolments of students under 25, and a rise of 14 percent in enrolments of students 25 and over.

“International education is crucial to building relationships between people and communities in the United States and around the world. It is through these relationships that together we can solve global challenges like climate change, the spread of pandemic disease, and combatting violent extremism,” said Evan M. Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. “We also need to expand access to international education for students from more diverse backgrounds, in more diverse locations of study, getting more diverse types of degrees. Only by engaging multiple perspectives within our societies can we all reap the numerous benefits of international education - increased global competence, self-awareness and resiliency, and the ability to compete in the 21st century economy,” Assistant Secretary Ryan remarked.

Community benefits from international enrolment

International students bring enormous economic benefits to their colleges' home communities. For the 2013-14 academic year, the most recent year for which figures are available, international students and their dependents contributed $26.8 billion to the U.S. economy and an estimation of 340,000 jobs were created or supported during the same time frame. That is almost a 12 percent increase in dollars contributed to the economy compared to the previous year and an 8.5 percent increase in job support and creation.


Share this Post