Efforts to bring international students to U.S. campuses and send American students overseas has accelerated in the past five years, according to an American Council on Education (ACE) survey of U.S. colleges.
International engagement was “high” or “very high,” ACE said of the more than 70 percent of 1,100 American colleges and universities it polled in 2016.
Schools have stepped up efforts to “internationalize” campuses in the face of globalization, the report said, but “efforts are still focused first and foremost on the external,” meaning more international students come in than domestic students go out.
The U.S. hosted more than 1 million international students in the 2015-2016 school year, with more than 328,000 coming from China followed by 165,000 India, according to Institute for International Education (IIE) statistics.
The next largest groups came from Saudi Arabia (61,000 or 5.9 percent) and South Korea (61,000 or 5.8 percent). The rest come in relatively small percentages from Canada (2.6), Vietnam (2.1), Taiwan (2.0), Brazil (1.9), Japan (1.8), Mexico (1.6), Iran (1.2), UK (1.1), Turkey (1.0), Nigeria (1.0), Germany (1.0), Kuwait (0.9), Nepal (0.9), France (0.8), Indonesia (0.8), Venezuela (0.8), Hong Kong (0.8), Malaysia (0.8), Colombia (0.7), Thailand (0.7) and Spain (0.6).
Conversely, the U.S. sent more than 310,000 students to study abroad, with 63 percent of those spending the summer or eight weeks of less abroad. Thirty-four percent spent a semester and 2.5 percent stayed an entire school year.
More than half of U.S. students study abroad in Europe. Sixteen percent go to Latin America or the Caribbean and 11 percent to Asia, IIE reported.
“Program enrollment was notably skewed toward non-U.S. students,” the report said. “Nearly two-thirds of programs enrolled only students from the partners country, while about one-third enrolled a mix of U.S. and foreign students. Just four percent fo programs included in the survey enrolled only U.S. students.”
As the number of students coming to the U.S. increases, so does the demand for administrators to attend to those foreign students.
“More institutions are implementing policies, procedures, and planning processes to guide internationalization efforts,” in its most recent “Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses” report.
To address this need, schools and colleges will partner more with other institutions, making curriculum more international and training faculty in this arena, the report said.
More and more institutions are creating academic policies and programming to foster on-campus global learning for a larger number of students.
For example, Hofstra University in New York graduated its first class of 10 students who received a simultaneous degree from Dalian University in China. Columbia University in New York and University of California-Berkeley partner with Sciences Po, a well-respected French university.
“The top partner countries were China, France, Turkey, Germany and South Korea,” the report explained.
However, “the level of support that international students receive once they arrive on campus, while trending upward, remains a concern,” the report said.
Because the largest population of international students are non-native English speakers – Chinese -- some educators say these students may self-isolate and not assimilate into American society. Concerns have been raised that international students are seen as revenue generators for U.S. schools because they typically pay full tuition.
International students added $32.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015.
ACE received 1,164 responses to nearly 3,000 invitations to participate in the survey. The information was collected between February and December 2016.