Nearly 820,000 students from around the world studied in the United States last year – a 7 percent increase from the previous year, a new report finds.
International students are a boon to American universities that can attract top international talent without spending precious scholarship dollars. Seven in 10 international students pay for college primarily with personal or family money, or are bankrolled by their government or by a college in their home country, according to the report, which was produced by the Institute of International Education together with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
International students’ spending in the U.S. also contributed about $24 billion to the economy last year.
China and Saudi Arabia were responsible for the most growth in the student population, with the number of students coming to the U.S. from those countries increasing 21.4 percent and 30.5 percent respectively. China sent the most students –236,000 – comprising more than a quarter of all international students.
The next two countries of origin with the most students were India, with 97,000 students, and South Korea, with 71,000 students.
Last year marked the seventh consecutive year that the number of international students studying in the U.S. has expanded, and the rate of increase has grown for each of the past three years. There are now 40 percent more international students studying at U.S. colleges than there were a decade ago.
The number of U.S. students studying abroad also hit a record high last year, increasing 3 percent to 283,000 students. Still, despite the increase, 90 percent of U.S. students do not study internationally.
“We need to increase substantially the number of U.S. students who go abroad so that they, too, can gain the international experience which is so vital to career success and deepening mutual understanding,” Evan M. Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, said in a statement.
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