Foreign students are entering U.S. colleges and universities in surging numbers, according to a report released Monday, with China and Saudi Arabia helping to fuel an 8 percent annual increase in international enrollment.
There were 886,052 foreigners enrolled in U.S. higher education in the 2013-2014 school year, the Institute of International Education and the State Department said in a report called “Open Doors.” The total rose more than 66,000 compared with 2012-2013, the eighth straight year of growth.
Chinese students make up 31 percent of foreign enrollment, the largest single bloc. Their total grew 17 percent, to about 274,000. The number of Saudi students grew 21 percent, to nearly 54,000. Saudi Arabia now ranks fourth as a student exporter to the United States.
India, which ranks second, sent about 103,000 students, up 6 percent. South Korea, which ranks third, sent about 68,000, down 4 percent.
“International education is crucial to building relationships between people and communities in the United States and around the world,” Evan M. Ryan, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, said in a statement. “It is through these relationships that together we can solve global challenges like climate change, the spread of pandemic disease, and combating violent extremism.”
New York University hosted the largest number of foreign students, 11,164, knocking the University of Southern California out of the top spot. USC, which had 10,932 foreign students, led the nation on that measure for 12 straight years.
Others in the top 10 for hosting foreign students were the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (10,843); Columbia University (10,486); Purdue University (9,988); the University of California at Los Angeles (9,579); Northeastern University (9,078); Arizona State University (8,683); Michigan State University (7,704); and the University of Washington (7,469).
Many factors drive the globalization of higher ed. The large number of major U.S. research universities attracts foreign graduate students, and many wealthy families from overseas send their children to the United States for undergraduate degrees, which is a key source of revenue for colleges.
In the District of Columbia, a magnet for foreign enrollment because of the city’s global prominence, nearly 10,000 students are from outside the United States. That is about 11 percent of total college and university enrollment in the District, according to the report.
George Washington University, the city’s largest, had 4,256 foreign students in the most recent school year, according to the report. Georgetown University had 2,511; American University had 1,691; Catholic University had 552; and Gallaudet University had 177.