Foreign students storm the US: Five facts about who they are

International students flocked to US colleges and universities in record numbers in the 2010-11 academic year. The number jumped 5 percent in one year, and foreign students now contribute more than $21 billion to the US economy – making higher education a top US service-sector export, a new report finds. Here are five ways the makeup of international students in the US is changing.

By , Staff writer

2. Rebound from Saudi Arabia

The top five countries sending students to US colleges and universities in 2010-11 are the same as the year before: China, India, South Korea, Canada, and Taiwan. But the No. 6 slot this year goes to Saudi Arabia, which saw an astonishing 43.6 percent jump in one year – to 22,704 – in the number of students studying in the US.

After the 9/11 attacks, the number of Saudi students at US colleges and universities plummeted. The drop reflected a sentiment among many Saudi students that they no longer felt welcome in the US, amid increased federal scrutiny of foreigners in general and Arabs and Muslims in particular.

But the Saudis are back, the result in part of new Saudi government scholarship programs encouraging foreign study. Business and engineering are hot fields of study for the Saudis, but intensive English study tops their list. Nearly one-third of Saudi students are in the US to focus on learning English, the "Open Doors" report finds.

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