Students from India led the pack of international students in the United States for the eighth consecutive year. With a jump of more than nine percent in enrollment in the 2008-2009 academic year, there are now more than 100,000 desis on campuses around the country.
The annual Open Doors report, published by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, makes it amply clear that despite the bleary economic and jobs scenario and rising tuition costs, the United States remains the destination of choice for students around the world.
The number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by 8 percent to an all-time high of 671,616 this past academic year; students from India comprised of 103,260 of the overall number. There were 94,563 Indian students in 2007/2008, and with a jump of 9.2 percent this past academic period, it has now crossed 100,000.
Chinese students showed a sharp increase though, with a 21 percent growth in enrollment, and if the trend continues for another year, are likely to overtake India the next academic year. From 81,127 last academic year, they jumped to 98,510 this year. South Korea (about 69,000 to 75,000) remained in third place.
Indian officials have reported that Indian student inflow contributed nearly $3 billion to the U.S. economy last year. Overall, international students contribute $17.8 billion to the U.S. economy, through their expenditures on tuition and living expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The Open Doors report said the largest growth this year was seen in undergraduate enrollment, which increased by 11 percent, compared to a 2 percent increase in graduate enrollments. The top ten most popular fields of study for international students in the United States in 2008/09 were Business and Management (21 percent of total), Engineering (18 percent); Physical and Life Sciences (9 percent), Social Sciences (9 percent), Mathematics and Computer Science (8 percent), Health Professions (5 percent), Fine & Applied Arts (5 percent), Intensive English Language (4 percent;), Humanities (3 percent), Education (3 percent), and Agriculture (1 percent).
Apart from India and China, the other top enrollment is from South Korea (up 9 percent) and Canada, the only non-Asian country in the top five, up 2 percent, surpassing Japan, now in fifth place with enrollment decreasing 14 percent.
California is the leading state of destination for international students followed by New York, Texas, Massachusetts and Florida. The University of Southern California enrolls the greatest number of international students followed by New York University, Columbia University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Purdue University. New York City remains the top host city.
To provide a snapshot look at what U.S. campuses are reporting in Fall 2009, IIE conducted an online survey, in cooperation with seven other higher education associations, asking if international enrollments for Fall 2009 have increased or decreased. This survey indicates a mixed picture for this Fall, with international enrollments varying according to different countries of origin and types and sizes of host institutions: 50 percent of responding campuses are continuing to see increases in international student enrollments (down from 57 percent that saw increases the previous year), while 24 percent reported declines, and 26 percent reported levels about the same as for the prior Fall.
The campuses seeing declines noted varied effects of the current economic conditions and students’ concerns about the H1Nl virus, while those reporting increases cited increased recruitment efforts and the growing reputation and visibility of U.S. campuses abroad.
Open Doors 2009 reports the number of Americans studying abroad increased by 8.5 percent to 262,416 in the 2007/08 academic year. This latest increase builds on decades of steady growth, with four times as many U.S. students studying abroad in 2007/08 than in 1987/88. The top four countries hosting U.S. students are United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and France. China, now the fifth leading destination, saw increases in enrollment of American students of 19 percent following a 25 percent increase the previous year.
Fifteen of the top 25 destinations for American students are outside Western Europe and 19 are countries where English is not the primary language. The number of students electing to study in Africa increased by 18 percent, those going to Asia increased by 17 percent, to Latin America by 11 percent, and those going to the Middle East increased by 22 percent. About 40 percent of students studying abroad do so through mid-length programs, while 56 percent of U.S. students chose short-term programs.
Allan E. Goodman, president and CEO of the Institute of International Education, noted that the experiences afforded through study abroad provide American students with the skills needed to live in today’s increasingly inter-connected world.
"More students are eager to study in new popular destinations abroad such as China, India and the Middle East. The language and cultural skills they acquire along with their academic experience will have a profound effect on their lives and careers," he said.
By Sujeet Rajan, The Indian Express, 27 November 2009.