Record Number of International & Vietnamese Students in the U.S.

It’s morning in America on Monday, 11 November, time for the annual Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange press conference!  According to the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) 2013 report, the number of international students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities increased by 7% to a record high of 819,644 students in the 2012/13 academic year.  (Note:  The data are from fall 2012.)  The top ten countries and numbers of students are as follows:

Rank Place of Origin 2011/12 2012/13 2012/13  % of Total % Change
WORLD   TOTAL 764,495 819,644 100 7.2
1 China 194,029 235,597 28.7 21.4
2 India 100,270 96,754 11.8 -3.5
3 South Korea 72,295 70,627 8.6 -2.3
4 Saudi Arabia 34,139 44,566 5.4 30.5
5 Canada 26,821 27,357 3.3 2
6 Taiwan 23,250 21,867 2.7 -5.9
7 Japan 19,966 19,568 2.4 -2
8 Vietnam 15,572 16,098 2 3.4
9 Mexico 13,893 14,199 1.7 2.2
10 Turkey 11,973 11,278 1.4 -5.8

Vietnam remains in 8th place with a modest increase of 3.4% from 15,572 to 16,098, closing in on Japan, which experienced a 2% decrease in enrollment.  The academic breakdown was as follows:

  •  70.7% undergraduate
  • 17.3% graduate students
  • 5.3% other
  • 6.7% OPT (Optional Practical Training)

Below is a list of fields of study by percentage.  There was a slight decrease in the percentage of students enrolled in business/management fields.

Subject Percentage
1 Business/Management 38.1%
2 Undeclared 10.2%
3 Engineering 9.9%
4 Math/Computer Science 7.5%
5 Physical/Life Sciences 7.3%
6 Other 7.2%
7 Social Sciences 5.1%
8 Intensive English 4.6%
9 Health Professions 4.3%
10 Fine/Applied Arts 3.5%
11 Humanities 1.2%
12 Education 1.1%

International Students in the US

BT-Open-Doors-2013Overview: The number of international students enrolled in U.S. higher education increased by seven percent to 819,644 students in 2012/13, with 55,000 more students than last year enrolled in colleges and universities across the United States.  This 2012/13 data marks the seventh consecutive year that Open Doors reported expansion in the total number of international students in U.S. higher education.  There are now 40 percent more international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities than a decade ago, and the rate of increase has risen steadily for the past three years.

A strong increase in the number of “new” international students, those enrolling for the first time at a U.S. college or university in fall 2013, indicates that this growth trend likely will continue.  New enrollments in 2012/13 were up ten percent from the prior year, following a seven percent increase in 2011/12.  Both total enrollment and new enrollment had slowed after the economic slowdown in 2007/08, and both have now rebounded to previous high rates of growth.

Despite the increases in recent years, international students still constitute less than four percent of the more than 21 million students enrolled in U.S. higher education.

Places of Origin: The growth is largely driven by students from China, particularly at the undergraduate level.  Chinese student enrollments increased by 21 percent in total to almost 235,000 students, and increased by 26 percent at the undergraduate level.  There were also large increases in undergraduate students from several countries where the national governments have been investing in scholarship programs to send their students to the United States to study.  This year, there was a 20 percent increase in students from Brazil, to a total of almost 10,900, reflecting the effects of the first full year of undergraduate students coming to the United States  with scholarships from the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program.  There was a 30 percent increase in the number of students from Saudi Arabia, with nearly 45,000 students in the United States, largely funded by the Saudi government scholarship program, now approaching its 10th year.  On a smaller scale, the continued expansion of the Kuwaiti government scholarship programs led to 37 percent more students coming from Kuwait, with its more than 5,100 students making it the newest addition to the top 25 sender list.  These increases and scholarship opportunities help explain why international undergraduates studying in the United States outnumber international graduate students for the second year in a row, after 12 years in which more international students in the U.S. were studying at the graduate level.

Photo:  IIE
Graphic: IIE

Students from the top three places of origin – China, India, and South Korea – now represent 49 percent of the total number of international students in the United States, with the number from China increasing, and the numbers from India and South Korea declining.  After these top three countries, no country represents more than 5 percent of the total.

All places of origin on the top 25 list now have 5,000 or more students in the United States. There were increases in the number of students from 16 of the top 25 places of origin, including Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam.  With an increase of 25 percent to more than 8,700 students in the United States, Iran moved up from the 20th leading sender to number 15 this year. With the addition of Kuwait, at number 24, Russia is no longer among the top 25 senders, and Spain now becomes number 25, with a 2 percent increase to just over 5,000 students.

At the same time, there was a decline in the number of students from several major sending countries, including the second and third leading senders: India (down four percent for the second year) and South Korea (down two percent).  Also showing declines this year were Taiwan (down 6 percent), Japan (down two percent – a lower rate of decline than in previous years), and Turkey (down 6 percent), as well as Nepal, Hong Kong, Thailand and Venezuela.  The factors driving these declines likely include a mix of global and home country economic factors, growing higher education opportunities at home, and stronger employment opportunities at home after graduation.

Economic and Social Impact: The continued growth in international students coming to the U.S. for higher education has a significant positive economic impact on the United States. International students contribute more than $24 billion to the U.S. economy, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.  Open Doors 2013 reports that about 72% percent of all international students receive the majority of their funds from sources outside of the United States, including personal and family sources as well as assistance from their home country governments or universities.

Follow this link to read the rest of the IIE press release.

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