The number of international students attending U.S. colleges continues to grow, and about a third are from China, according to a report issued today.

In the 2012-13 school year, 235,597 of the 819,644 international students on U.S. campuses, or 28.7 percent, arrived from China, according to the annual Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange published by the Institute of International Education.

The number of students from China increased 21.4 percent from the previous year.

Following China, the top “places of origin” are  India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Canada, the report said. That order has  not changed for years. Those five account for about 60 percent of all international students.

However, Brazil and Iran are moving up in the standings, and each saw a more than 20 percent increase in students attending U.S. colleges.

There are now 40 percent more international students studying at U.S. colleges than a decade ago, and the rate of increase has risen steadily for the past three years, the report said.

Universities in Ohio and across the country have realized the benefits of recruiting international students, especially those from China – for they usually pay full price and can handle the academic challenges.

Ohio again ranks eighth in the country in international student enrollment, with 28,401 students, an increase of 7.5 percent from the previous year.

Ohio State University, with 6,478 international students, ranks 15th in the country, and may rise in future years following the opening of offices in Shanghai, China and Mumbai, India. It plans to open an office in Brazil.

Following OSU in international enrollment are the University of Cincinnati with 2,939 students; Kent State University with 2,406, Ohio University with 1,890 and the University of Toledo with 1,877. Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, the University of Akron and Miami University each have between 1,200 and 1,750 international students.

While Ohio’s universities have seen steady gains, international enrollment at Kent State has grown by a large margin – from 1,503 students in 2010 to 2,406 in 2012.


“The global competition to recruit talented students is rapidly increasing,” said David Di Maria, Kent State’s director of international programs and services, in an e-mail. “ Kent State remains an attractive choice for many due to the high quality and wide variety of its academic programs. International students bring diverse perspectives to our classrooms, support our local economy and promote positive international relations.”

International students make up slightly under four percent of total student enrollment at the graduate and undergraduate level combined, the Open Doors report said. International students’ spending in all 50 states contributed approximately $24 billion to the U.S. economy.

The report also documents the number of U.S. students who study abroad. That number increased by three percent, to 283,332 students in 2011-2012, the report said.

Study abroad by American students has more than tripled over the past two decades, from approximately 71,000 students in 1991 to the record number in 2011.

Despite these increases, fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point during their undergraduate years. And most of them stay for only a semester.

“The careers of all of our students will be global ones, in which they will need to function effectively in multi-national teams,” said Institute of International Education President Allan Goodman in a news release. “They will need to understand the cultural differences and historical experiences that divide us, as well as the common values and humanity that unite us. International students coming to study in the U.S. benefit from access to some of the finest professors and research laboratories in the world, and Americans benefit substantially from the presence of international students who bring their own unique perspectives and knowledge to the classroom and the wider community.”

Commenting on the fact that 90 percent of American undergraduates still do not study abroad, Goodman said, “We need to increase substantially the number of U.S. students who go abroad so that they too can gain the international experience which is so vital to career success and deepening mutual understanding.”


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