Edition 175 - November 2015

Open Doors 2015: Record mobility numbers

The United States continues to enjoy growing popularity as a study destination with a record high of 974 926 international students enrolled in US colleges and universities during the 2014-15 academic year, according to the 2015 edition of the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange released by the Institute of International Education (IIE) on November 16.  Fuelled mostly by growing numbers of students from India, China and Brazil, the increase in international students by 10% compared to the previous year marks the largest growth in 35 years. These figures confirm the US as an unrivalled leader in international higher education, succeeding to attract almost twice as many international students as the United Kingdom, the second most popular destination. 

International students now make up almost 5% of the more than 20 million students enrolled in U.S. higher education. China, India, South Korea and Saudi Arabia are the top feeder countries for international students on American campuses, with Chinese and Indian students accounting for 45% of all international students in the US. The highest numbers of international students are hosted by New York University, University of Southern California, Columbia University, Arizona State University and University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, each enrolling more than 11 000 international students.

Compared to the international enrolment numbers, the Open Doors data on the international mobility of domestic students paint a slightly less flattering picture of US internationalisation. Although a record 304 467 American students studied abroad in 2014-15, still only 10% of US students take part in international credit mobility. The most popular destinations for American students are the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France and China. In terms of field of study, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students represent 23% of American study abroad students, followed by students majoring in business and management (20%) and social sciences (19%). 

Drawing on the Open Doors 2015 data, the NAFSA statistical analysis captures the major economic contribution of international students to the US economy. In the academic year 2014-2015, the presence of international students contributed USD 30.5 billion to the national economy, generating and supporting 373 381 jobs in the higher education, accommodation, dining, and other related sectors. The largest beneficiaries of international students were the states of California (135 130 students, USD 4.6 billion), New York (106 758 students, USD 3.7 billion), Texas (75 558 students, USD 1.7 billion) and Massachusetts (55 447 students, USD 2.2 billion). 

Press release

NAFSA International Student Economic Value tool

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