Enrollment by international students in U.S. postsecondary institutions continues to rise and has reached historic proportions, based on recently released figures from the Institute of International Education (IIE). The data suggests increased competition for graduating high school students wishing to enroll and fill seats at leading U.S. colleges and universities.
“Higher education institutions across the United States have experienced an astonishing 40 percent increase in international student enrollments over the past decade,” writes University World News about the IIE findings.
For the 2012-2013 school year, international student enrollment reached a record high of 819,644 students, according to the IIE’s Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. The growth in international students represents a 7.2 percent increase over the previous school year. Additionally, the volume of first-time international students increased by 9.8 percent.
International enrollments will continue to remain strong over the next four or five years, based on the report’s results.
New Postsecondary Realities
Overall, international students made up only 3.9 percent of the total U.S. higher education population in 2012-2013. However, the continued growth in the number of international students is creating new realities for postsecondary life:
- Increasing competition for seats in leading U.S. research institutions. All students, regardless of their nation of origin, will see increased competition for postsecondary seats, specifically at leading research institutions that host majors in business and engineering.
- Growing importance of global skills and literacy. Globalization is not simply an economic or geo-political theory. International diversity has arrived at every major U.S. campus. The ability of all students to collaborate with diverse individuals will impact their success rate both in terms of degree completion and career placement.
More on International Student Trends
The majority of international students studying in the United States originated from China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Canada, according to the report. The students from these top five countries of origin accounted for 57.8 percent of all international student enrollments in 2012-2013.
More than 40 percent of 2012-2013 enrollments came from just two countries – China and India.
Top Universities for International Students
While international students matriculate to postsecondary institutions in all 50 U.S. states, the following institutions hosted the largest volume of international students, based upon 2012-2013 enrollment figures:
- University of Southern California (9,840 international students)
- University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (9,804)
- Purdue University (9,509)
- New York University (9,362)
- Columbia University (8,797)
- University of California, Los Angeles (8,424)
- Northeastern University (7,705)
- University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (6,827)
- Michigan State University (6,759)
- Penn State University, University Park (6,693)
Top Majors for International Students
Approximately half of the 2012-2013 international student population pursued degrees in business (21.8 percent), engineering (18.8 percent) or math/computer Science (9.5 percent).
In general, there appears to be equal interest between humanities and science majors with each division attracting nearly half of the international student population. Education was the only field which saw declining interest from 2011 to 2012.
Campuses Are Now Global Communities
“The careers of all of our students will be global ones, in which they will need to function effectively in multi-national teams,” said IIE President Dr. Allan E. Goodman in a press release announcing the report’s findings.
“International students coming to study in the U.S. benefit from access to some of the finest professors and research laboratories in the world, and Americans benefit substantially from the presence of international students who bring their own unique perspectives and knowledge to the classroom and the wider community.”