Accessibility links

IIE Open Doors Report: Who Studies in the U.S? (Part 2)

  • Jessica Stahl

The Institute of International Education today released its Open Doors report, which provides an annual look at international students in the U.S. This year's data refers to the 2009-2010 school year. It shows a number of interesting trends - some expected, some not. Here are some things of particular interest:

1 ) The U.S. hosts more international students than any other country – 691,000 in 2009-2010, up 26% in the last decade (LA Times)

2 ) That said, growth in the number of foreign student enrollments is slowing. The number of first-time students grew only 1% last year, compared to 16% the previous year.

The growth is largely due to an influx of students from China, which had 30% more students enrolled in 2009-2010 than the year before (The Chronicle of Higher Education, with a long look at the trend in Chinese students and what it means)

3 ) Saudi Arabia also increased enrollments 25%, thanks to the government’s investment in study abroad scholarships (IIE)

The Chronicle has a great chart of how sending countries have trended over time, where you can see inflection points in response to major events like the Iranian Revolution and 9/11.

4 ) Together, the top three sending countries (China, India and South Korea) make up 44% of the total foreign student enrollments (IIE)

5 ) While most students enroll in undergraduate and graduate degree programs, the fastest growth has been in non-degree programs. New international student enrollment in non-degree programs grew 16% last year, and a staggering 266% since 2004-2005 (IIE)

In addition, although the vast majority of countries send more undergraduate than graduate students, both China and India have more students enrolled in graduate degree programs (IIE)

6 ) Most foreign students study business and management - followed by engineering and math, all of which grew enrollments from the previous year (IIE)

7 ) The number of students relying on personal and family funds as their main source of funding is decreasing. Although that is still how the majority of students get their primary funding, funding from U.S. universities, home governments/universities and foreign private sponsors are on the rise, both as a percentage of how the incoming class gets their funding and in absolute terms (IIE)

8 ) International students and their dependents contributed approximately $18.8 billion to the U.S. economy (NAFSA)

This new IIE data echoes some of the SEVIS data we shared last week.