A new preliminary survey finds that the September 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon outside Washington have had little effect on the number of foreign students studying or seeking to study in the United States.
The president of the New York-based Institute of International Education, Allan Goodman, said the overall number of foreign students studying in the United States has remained steady and that the United States is still the number one destination of choice in higher education.
"It is that because we have so many colleges and universities," said Mr. Goodman. "No other country on earth has that diversity or an openesss, a tradition of openness as well as the capacity to absorb large numbers of international students. And finally, the biggest fundamental is that campuses want international students. They believe they add a great deal to the campus community," Mr. Goodman said.
The preliminary results of the survey of more than 300 American campuses at the beginning the the current school year indicates there has been no substantial drop in the enrollment of students from the nations in the Middle East, with the exception of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The survey results also suggest that concerns about tightening visa requirements may have been exaggerated.
The study was released in conjunction with the Institute's annual survey of international educational exchanges, "Open Doors." The 2002 report, documenting the academic year that ended in May, shows a record number of foreign students, almost 600,000, pursued higher education in the United States. Allan Goodman says "Opens Doors 2002" is particulary noteworthy because it shows that India is now the foreign country that sends the largest number of students to the United States.
"It is ahead now of China which has been the leading sender for a decade. This is not a surprising story to Indians. Indian higher education is basically out of seats. India has a huge middle class. India, like any other country in the world, knows the quality of American higher education," Mr. Goodman said.
Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Canada, Mexico and Turkey are among the nations sending the largest student contingents to the United States for higher education.
The survey also shows that last year about 155,000 U.S. students studied abroad, double the number of a decade ago. Still, Allan Goodman expresses disappointment that the number is not much bigger.
"That number should be at least one million. I used to think language was the problem. What is deterring them is that there is not enough academic space in their curriulum so that they can, in curricula terms, afford a semester abroad, not in financial terms, but in finding a way to fit it into their program so that they do not have to take an extra year or semester to get their degree," Mr. Goodman said.
Allan Goodman said the demand on the part of African students is enormous but few are able to afford U.S. higher education. "Given what has happened to national economies on the African continent, and given the relatively limited funds even the United States government has for scholarship programs, Africans cannot get access. But the demand is there, qualified students and scholars are there, and if finances were not the problem, we would have much larger numbers," Mr. Goodman said.
California is the state that draws the largest number of foreigns students, as it has for decades, with more foreign students enrolled at the University of Southern California than at any other school. New York University, which led for the previous four years, now places second.