Through its higher education system, the US student population is slowly shedding an unfortunate image it may have once had of being rather parochial. The US continues to be the destination of choice for students worldwide, with international student enrolment growing by 8% last year, according to new figures released by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in its latest report Open Doors. The US now hosts 19% of the world’s 4.5 million globally mobile students, taking in more than any other country – and twice as many as the UK does, which is in second place.
Tracking trends over 15 years, the data offers insights into both international students arriving in the US and Americans travelling abroad. It can be summarised with one word – competition.
The often-discussed “turn to the East” in US professional, business and academic terms is also clear in the increasing chance for American college and university students to mix with those from Asia. Half of all international students in the US now come from just three countries: China, India and South Korea.
Chinese students alone now represent 31% of all international students in the US – or 274,439 – five times as many as in 2000 when it was only 11%, and students from India account for 12%, or 96,754.
But these trends may be changing: while the number of Chinese students coming to the US has grown for the fifth year in a row, the rate of this growth has slowed. The Chinese government has massively increased its own domestic spending to build home-grown, world-class institutions and higher education capacity as a way to stop a historic, chronic brain drain.
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