Growth from Asia drives surge in U.S. international students

A Pew Research Center article notes that the U.S. international student population grew 72% from 1999 to 2013, according to the New York-based Institute of International Education, with nearly all the increase came from Asian countries.

China was the single biggest source of international university students, and most of the increase over the past decade and a half can be attributed to Chinese students. In 2013-2014, according to the IIE, 274,439 Chinese students were studying in the U.S. – 31% of the total, and more than five times the number from 15 years ago. Put another way, 15 years ago, just over one of every 10 foreign students was Chinese; last year, nearly one of every three were.

The Pew Research Center article also noted that according to a report in the journal Science, many Chinese families see U.S. higher education as a high-quality, affordable alternative to “the rigid undergraduate training offered by most Chinese universities.”

Following China is India, with 102,673 students in the U.S., and South Korea, with just over 68,000. The Asian country with the biggest percentage increase over that same period was Vietnam, which sent more than seven times as many students in 2013-2014 (16,579) to U.S. institutions of higher learning as it did in 1999-2000 (2,266). Among non-Asian countries, the most significant increase was Saudi Arabia, which sent nearly 10 times as many students to U.S. colleges and universities in 2013-2014 (53,919) as it did 15 years earlier (5,156).

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