The number of international students attending U.S. universities, as well as the number of U.S. students studying abroad, is at a record high, according to a report from the Institute of International Education (IIE), a nonprofit education and cultural exchange organization based in the United States.
There were 273,996 American students gaining academic credit across borders in the 2010–2011 academic year, which was up by just over 1 percent from the previous year, and there were 764,495 international students studying inside the United States during the same year, which was up by 5.7 percent from the previous year, according to the IIE’s 2012 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange.
“These numbers tell us an exciting story,” said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a televised message. “Even in an age when we can take a virtual trip to far-flung places just by clicking a mouse, we still want to see the world for ourselves and discover our common bonds firsthand.”
November 12–16 is officially recognized as International Education Week, as a result of a joint initiative between the U.S. Department of State and Department of Education.
International students in the United States can be found within many fields of study, but there are larger percentages of international students within a few particular fields. Business and management, engineering, and math and computer science remain the three most popular fields of study among international students in the United States, according to the IIE’s report.
For example, for students from China, who accounted for the largest percentage of foreign students at 25.4 percent with 194,029 students during the 2011–2012 academic year, the most popular field of study was business and management.
“Even in an age when we can take a virtual trip to far-flung places just by clicking a mouse, we still want to see the world for ourselves and discover our common bonds firsthand.”
—Hilary Clinton, U.S. secretary of state
The second-largest group of foreign students studying in the United States in the 2011–2012 academic year was from India, with 100,270 students, and the most popular field of study within that group was engineering.
For South Korean students, totaling 72,295 in the 2011–2012 academic year, the most popular field of study was business and management, but students from Saudi Arabia primarily studied intensive English.
For students from Taiwan and Germany, the top-ranking subject was business and management in the 2011–2012 academic year—however, there were more Taiwanese students studying fine and applied arts than any other nationality, and there were more German students studying humanities than any other nationality.
The University of Southern California (USC), which was the top destination for international students in the 2011–2012 academic year, has recruitment offices in foreign countries, according to the L.A. Times. USC has seen an increase in students arriving from China and Iran, while students from India are the second-largest population of international students at the university; however, those numbers are declining, according to USC data.
Fewer than 2 percent of all American college students study abroad, and they typically spend short lengths of time in other countries. Nonetheless, those numbers are slowly increasing.
The top destination for American students studying abroad is the United Kingdom, according to the IIE report. However, the five foreign destinations that saw the greatest increase in U.S. students between the 2009–2010 and 2010–2011 academic years were South Korea, Costa Rica, Brazil, India, and Denmark.
Other foreign destinations seem to be losing popularity among U.S. study abroad students. Between the 2009–2010 and 2010–2011 academic years, Japan saw a decrease in U.S. students of 33 percent, and Mexico saw a decrease of 41.8 percent.
Clinton urged students to study abroad in her message: “To those students who have yet to study abroad, I urge you to stretch your boundaries and your imaginations and set off on your own adventures. Studying abroad can be one of the most rewarding and enlightening experiences of your life.”
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