Report: Foreign students at U.S. colleges on the rise

Enrollment at U.S. colleges of students of Chinese and Saudi nationality is rising dramatically, according to the “Open Doors” report released this week by the State Department and the Institute of International Education. Overall, international student enrollment at U.S. colleges and universities was up 8 percent year-over-year for the 2013-2014 school year.

The largest foreign group of U.S. students are Chinese, at 31 percent, followed by India, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. The fastest growing group of foreign students in U.S. colleges and universities are Saudis though — growing by 21 percent from the start of the 2013 to 2014 school years.

When it comes to individual colleges, New York University boasts the highest number of foreign student, with over 11,000. The University of Southern California ranked second with just over 10,900 foreign students studying at its campuses. Other colleges that made the list for having a high number of foreign enrollees included Arizona State University, Michigan State University, Northeastern University, Purdue University, Columbia University and the University of California at Los Angeles.

Geographically, the Washington D.C. area has the highest number of foreign student enrollment dispersed among institutions like Georgetown, American, George Washington and Catholic universities.

So what makes the U.S. such a sought-after destination for students from all over the world? Many of the schools listed in the report are known for strong research programs, making them attractive to wealthier families from overseas that are interested in gaining an advantage in the job force of their own countries when their kids return home. International students certainly help the bottom line of these schools and provide diversity on campus, but I’d like to see a study that outlines whether the American economy benefits from these students long-term — or if the talent then leaves the U.S. in favor of their native homes.

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