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US Still Way Out in Front as Competition for Foreign Students Hots Up

Photo Credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

Photo Credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

So where do the brightest and the best foreign students go if they don’t want to study for a degree at a university or college back in their home countries? You’ve guessed it, the good old US of A, that’s where.

Data recently released by the IIE – the Institute of International Education – confirms once again the US is the most popular country in the world when it comes to foreign students studying abroad.

The data can be found in the 2014 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, published by the IIE in partnership with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. And it’s crammed full of interesting facts, figures and insights.

Learning fast

Of course, American students have also always studied abroad, too, with varied destinations ranging from the United Kingdom and other European countries to the United Arab Emirates universities in the Middle East and well beyond.

But the rest of the world is learning fast and becoming ever more competitive, attracting an increasing number of American students to study out-with their country. According to IIE figures, a total of 289,408 US students studied abroad for academic credit from their US colleges and universities during the 2013/14 academic year, a two-fold increase over the last 15 years.

Just so you know, the Open Doors report was released on the occasion of the 15th annual celebration of International Education Week, a joint initiative of the State Department and the US Department of Education. The initiative aims to prepare Americans for a global environment and to attract future foreign leaders to the United States to study, learn, and exchange experiences.

Here are a few of the report’s highlights worth mulling over:

During the 2013/14 academic year, there were 886,052 international students studying at colleges and universities in the United States, an eight percent increase and a record high.

The US hosted more of the world’s 4.5 million globally mobile college and university students than any other country in the world.

The 886,052 figure quoted above was almost twice the number hosted by the United Kingdom, the second leading host country.

The overall number of international students in the US has grown by 72 percent since the first International Education Week briefing was held in the year 2000.

And since 2000, there are now five times as many Chinese students on US campuses; almost two-and-a-half times as many Indian students; seven-and-a-half times as many Vietnamese students; and more than 10 times as many Saudi students.

Fastest growing region

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA), says the report, was the fastest growing region this year, with a 20 percent increase in students enrolling in US higher education. Strong support of the US-led public-private partnership, 100,000 Strong in the Americas, resulted in an eight percent rise in student numbers from Latin America and the Caribbean. Asian student numbers were also up eight percent in total, driven by a 17 percent rise in Chinese students.

And the contribution made by foreign students to the US economy in 2013? The US Department of Commerce calculates the contribution at more than $27 billion. Not exactly loose change! Read more about the IIE here.

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