In the last academic year (2013-2014), enrollment of international students at U.S. colleges increased 8% to a record high of 86,052. Here are some highlights from a recent article by The Chronicle of Higher Education:
1. One-third of the foreign students in 2013-2014 came from China, accounting for nearly 60% of the growth of the foreign student population at American colleges.
2. The Chinese student demographic in the U.S. has gotten younger. Ten years ago, more than 80% of Chinese students were in graduate school, whereas now the split is closer to 50-50 between undergrad and grad students.
3. There has even been growth among Chinese high school students studying in the U.S. (about 23,500 students). This means that in the future, a) U.S. colleges will be able to recruit Chinese students from U.S. soil, and b) Chinese college students will have an easier time adjusting culturally and academically to college life in the U.S.
4. Possible reason for increase in growth of Chinese student population: dissatisfaction with the Chinese school system.
5. The second largest source of international college students in the U.S. is India, with foreign student volume up 6%.
6. Possible reason for increase in growth of Indian student population: a stronger rupee, making overseas study more affordable. Many of the Indian students attending university in the U.S. were recruited from other countries where Indian families work or study.
7. The countries with the largest percentage growth in foreign students were Kuwait (43%), Brazil (22%), and Saudi Arabia (21%), all three of which have large government-sponsored scholarship programs in place to send students abroad (and pay in full for their studies). This makes them very attractive to American universities.
8. Most of the Saudi and Kuwaiti students who study abroad go to the U.S. (86% and 68% respectively), compared to just under 50% of Brazilians.
9. More than 10% of student visa holders in the U.S. are on the Optional Practical Training program (OPT) which allows students in the STEM fields to stay and work in the U.S. for up to 29 months after completing their studies.
10. In terms of American students studying abroad, those numbers are barely moving. In 2012-2013, the number of students who went abroad went up just 2%, with an increase in the number of non-white students and an increase in those students studying in STEM fields.