Record number of Chinese students flock to US colleges
The recession meant fewer Americans went abroad to study last year, and some countries sent fewer students to US colleges. But the number of Chinese students in the US increased by 30 percent.
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Every year, the Open Doors report provides a snapshot of foreign study – both students coming to the US and US students heading abroad. Among the interesting nuggets this year:Skip to next paragraph
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- For the first time in the 25 years that data has been tracked, the number of American students studying abroad fell slightly, down 0.8 percent to 260,327 – a decline attributable mostly to the recession, and one that Ms. Blumenthal says has already started to turn around, based on preliminary numbers.
- The top destinations for US students remain the same – Great Britain, Italy, and Spain – but those countries are declining in popularity as more students head to less traditional destinations. Peru, South Korea, and Chile saw the biggest increases. Others hosting more American students include China, Argentina, South Africa, Denmark, and the Czech Republic. US students are also studying a more diverse range of fields abroad, notes Blumenthal – so public health students may head to South Africa, or environmental studies students to Costa Rica – encouraging a broader array of destinations.
- Together, the top five countries sending students to the US – China, India, South Korea, Canada, and Taiwan – account for more than half of all foreign students studying here.
- For the most part, foreign students in the US study business and management or engineering; those two fields account for almost 40 percent of all the foreign students.
- The institutions hosting the largest number of foreign students (all with more than 7,000) are the University of Southern California, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and New York University.
Foreign students represent an important piece of the US economy, notes Allan Goodman, president of the IIE. About two-thirds of them pay their own way, which translates to about $20 billion a year. “Those students may support more than 100,000 jobs right here in America,” he says, noting that the Commerce Department regards it as an export service.
That may be one reason some states are making a concerted effort to attract more foreign students. California, New York, and Texas still host the largest numbers of foreign students, but several Midwestern states – Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana – all made a big effort to reach out to foreign students and saw sizable increases.