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Number of International Students at U.S. Colleges and Universities the Highest in 35 Years

November 16, 2015

 

​The 2015 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released today, finds the number of international students at U.S. colleges and universities had the highest rate of growth in 35 years, increasing by 10 percent to a record high of 974,926 students in the 2014-15 academic year. 

The report, published annually by the Institute of International Education and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is based on a survey administered with the support of ACE and six other higher education associations.

Among the report’s findings is that the number of U.S. students studying abroad increased by five percent in 2013-14, the highest rate of growth since before the 2008 economic recession. Only about 10 percent of U.S. students study abroad before graduating from college, despite that number more than tripling in the last two decades. While the United Kingdom remains the top host destination for American students studying abroad, there were also large increases in the number of students studying in other host countries in Europe and Latin America.

“The Open Doors report is a key source of information on trends in student mobility, which is an important component of comprehensive internationalization for many U.S. colleges and universities,” said Robin Matross Helms, associate director for research at ACE's Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement.

In a piece published on ACE’s blog Higher Education Today, Helms writes about the need to create a more globally focused curriculum to reach the 90 percent of U.S. students who are not able to study abroad.

In 2014-15, there were 88,874 more international students enrolled in U.S. higher education compared to the previous year. India, China and Brazil account for most of the growth in international students on U.S. campuses. International graduate students at U.S. institutions increased more than international undergraduate students, reversing a two-year trend in which undergraduates accounted for the greater number of new students.

The report also found that forty-four states plus the District of Columbia hosted more international students compared to the previous year. Among the top 10 host states, five had double-digit growth rates: Texas increased by 18 percent, California by 11 percent, and Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio by 10 percent each. New York University was the leading host university for international students for the second year in a row.

The new Open Doors data was released on the occasion of the 16th annual celebration of International Education Week, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences in the United States.

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