September 02, 2014 04:26 UTC

Audio / Education Report

China Passes India as Top Country Sending Students to US

Foreign students at Dickinson State University in Dickinson, North Dakota, in 2008
Foreign students at Dickinson State University in Dickinson, North Dakota, in 2008

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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

This week, the Institute of International Education in New York published its yearly report on international students in the United States. The report says more than six hundred ninety thousand attended American colleges and universities during the last academic year.

That number was a record high. It was an increase of three percent from the year before. But it was mainly the result of heavy growth from one country, China. China passed India as the top country sending students to the United States.

The president of the institute, Allan Goodman, says the economic crisis could have limited growth from other countries.

ALLAN GOODMAN: "Rates of increase for international students coming to America were a little bit slower in the last year and we think that reflects the global recession. And the number of Americans studying abroad declined a little bit. So we think that these flows are sensitive to things like wars, revolutions, recessions and natural disasters."

The Institute of International Education publishes its report called "Open Doors" with support from the State Department. The latest report is for the academic year that ended this past June.

It says China sent more than one hundred twenty-seven thousand students. That was an increase of thirty percent over the previous year.

India was the top sending country for eight years. But last year it was in second place, followed by South Korea. Among the top sending countries, Japan showed the greatest decrease -- a drop of fifteen percent.

For a ninth year, the University of Southern California in Los Angeles reported the largest number of foreign students -- nearly eight thousand.

The most popular field of study for international students in the United States is business and management, followed by engineering.

But the report noted a nine percent decrease for intensive English-language programs. Allan Goodman says the reason may have been the recession. He says English-language training is often the most costly part for students beginning their studies.

But Mr. Goodman pointed to an increase in another area: the number of foreign students at the undergraduate level.

ALLAN GOODMAN: "Traditionally, study in America has been overwhelmingly at the graduate level. And in the past several years we've begun to see almost an equal interest by families in sending students here for undergraduate education, and I think that’s going to continue because America is really a unique country. We have four thousand accredited colleges and universities. International students make up only about three percent of our total enrollment."

What that means, he says, is that there is a lot of room for growth.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Lawan Davis. I'm Steve Ember.

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