India No.1 Origin of U.S. International Students at 13.5%; China No.2 at 11.1%

In 2005/06, the number of international students enrolled in U.S. higher education institutions remained steady at 564,766, within a fraction of a percent of the previous year's totals, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE). This marks the seventh year in a row that America has hosted more than half a million foreign students, with a peak of 586,323 three years ago followed by declines of 2.4% and 1.3% in the past two years.  India is the leading place of origin for international students with 76,503 students in the U.S. in 2005/06 followed by #2 China (62,582), #3 Korea (58,847).

For the fifth consecutive year, the University of Southern California remains the U.S. campus with the largest international student enrollment, with 6,881 international students. Columbia University moved up from fourth to second place with 5,575 international students. The 2005/06 top five host institutions - all perennially popular destinations for international students -- are rounded out by Purdue University (moving up to third place from sixth), New York University (up one place to #4), and the University of Texas at Austin. 

American students studying abroad has reached 205,983 students this year, an increase of 8% over the prior year. 45% of all U.S. students abroad study in perennially popular destinations in Western Europe (#1 United Kingdom, #2 Italy, #3 Spain, and #4 France). There is a 35% increase (to 6,389) in students going to China, now the 8th-leading host destination for American students and the only Asian country in the top 10. India is now the 20th leading destination, up 53% to 1,767. 

Asia remains the largest sending region, accounting for 58% of total U.S. international enrollments. The total number of students from Asia showed an increase of just under 1% in 2005/06. 

International students contribute approximately $13.5 billion dollars to the U.S. economy, through their expenditure on tuition and living expenses. Department of Commerce data describe U.S higher education as the country's fifth largest service sector export.

Foreign Students Studying in the U.S. - Leading 20 Places of Origin

Rank Place of Origin 2004-05 2005-06 2005-06 
% of Int'l Students
2005/06 % Change
1 India 80,466 76,503 13.5 -4.9
2 China 62,523 62,582 11.1 0.1
3 Korea, Republic of 53,358 58,847 10.4 10.3
4 Japan 42,215 38,712 6.9 -8.3
5 Canada 28,140 28,202 5.0 0.2
6 Taiwan 25,914 27,876 4.9 7.6
7 Mexico 13,063 13,931 2.5 6.6
8 Turkey 12,474 11,622 2.1 -6.8
9 Germany 8,640 8,829 1.6 2.2
10 Thailand 8,637 8,765 1.6 1.5
11 United Kingdom 8,236 8,274 1.5 0.5
12 Hong Kong 7,180 7,849 1.4 9.3
13 Indonesia 7,760 7,575 1.3 -2.4
14 Brazil 7,244 7,009 1.2 -3.2
15 Colombia 7,334 6,835 1.2 -6.8
16 France 6,555 6,640 1.2 1.3
17 Kenya 6,728 6,559 1.2 -2.5
18 Nigeria 6,335 6,192 1.1 -2.3
19 Nepal 4,861 6,061 1.1 24.7
20 Pakistan 6,296 5,759 1.0 -8.5
  WORLD TOTAL 565,039 564,766   -0.05
Source: Open Doors 2006 - Institute of International Education

Highlights from Open Doors 2006:

Note: Extensive data tables are available on IIE's website at www.opendoors.iienetwork.org.

India is the leading place of origin for international students with 76,503 students in the U.S. in 2005/06 (a decrease of 5% from the previous year), followed by #2 China (62,582, up less than 1%), #3 Korea (58,847, up 10%), #4 Japan (38,712, down 8%), #5 Canada (28,202, up less than 1%), #6 Taiwan (27,876, up 8%), #7 Mexico (13,931, up 7%), #8 Turkey (11,622, down 7%), #9 Germany (8,829, up 2%), #10 Thailand (8,765, up 2%), #11 United Kingdom (8,274, up less than 1%), #12 Hong Kong (7,849, up 9%), #13 Indonesia (7,575, down 2%), #14 Brazil (7,009, down 3%), #15 Colombia (6,835, down 7%), #16 France (6,640, up 1%), #17 Kenya (6,559, down 3%), #18 Nigeria (6,192, down 2%), #19 Nepal (6,061, up 25%), #20 Pakistan (5,759 , down 9%).

University of Southern California hosts the largest number of international students. For the fifth year in a row, the University of Southern California is the leading host institution (6,881). Columbia University hosts the second highest number of foreign students (5,575). Other campuses in the top 10 are: Purdue University (5,540), New York University (5,502) University of Texas at Austin (5,395), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (4,904), University of Michigan - Ann Arbor (4,649), Boston University (4,542), Ohio State University (4,476), and SUNY- Buffalo (4,072).

California remains the leading host state for international students (75,385, up less than 1%), followed by New York (64,283, up 4%), Texas (46,869, down 1%), Massachusetts (28,007, up less than 1%), and Florida (26, 058, down less than 1%), followed by Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. In the top 20 leading hosting states, more than half had foreign enrollments that were increased or unchanged. Indiana had the largest percentage increase (up 6% to 13,992, moving into the top 10 this year), and the largest decrease was in Virginia, with a 6% decrease to 11,701. (For breakdowns by state, including leading host institutions and leading fields of study and places of origin for foreign students, go to the Open Doors website and click on "State Sheets").

The most popular fields of study for international students in the U.S. in 2005/06 were Business and Management (18% of total), Engineering (16%) and Physical and Life Sciences (9%), followed closely by Social Sciences (8%) and Mathematics and Computer Sciences (8%). This year three of the leading fields reported less than 1% change in enrollments compared to last year, but Engineering declined by 5% and Math and Computer Science declined by 10%. Fields experiencing growth include the Fine and Applied Arts (up 5%), Health Professions (up 3%), and Intensive English Language (up 7%). There was also a large increase in the number of students reported as doing Optional Practical Training, which includes internships in fields related to their studies.

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