Press Release

Record Total of 547,867 International Students on U.S. Campuses Enrollment Rises 6.4% Representing the Largest Increase since 1980

IIE on-line survey provides snapshot of impact of September 11th attack

WASHINGTON, DC, November 13, 2001—The number of international students attending colleges and universities in the United States increased by 6.4% in the 2000/2001 academic year to a record total of 547,867, according to Open Doors 2001, the annual report on international education published by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with support from the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. In celebration of International Education Week, IIE will hold a special briefing on November 13 in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the State Department, to discuss the report's findings. IIE will also release findings from a recent on-line survey of international education professionals that provides a closer look at how international education exchange has been affected by the September 11th attacks and their aftermath.

According to Allan E. Goodman, IIE president and CEO, "The growing number of international students here reflects the high value placed on a U.S. education by students from around the world. In the weeks since September 11, IIE member universities in the U.S. and international offices around the globe have shown clearly how strongly they wish this interaction to continue. In these challenging times ahead, it is the Institute's firm belief that international education will take on an even greater level of importance."

"We know that in the vast majority of cases, the chance for meaningful study by international students in the United States creates a deep appreciation of our culture and makes friends for America," Dr. Goodman said. The personal and professional relationships that international students make while they are studying in this country help forge strong bonds with the United States after they return, as they go on to conduct research or do business with their counterparts here, and particularly when they move on to leadership positions in their home countries. Equally important is how they enrich and inform U.S. classrooms with their own cultural perspective."

According to Patricia S. Harrison, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, "Exchange programs are founded on the belief that a more profound knowledge of other societies and cultures, and active cooperation in the search for solutions to common problems, help to build stronger relationships between countries, governments and peoples. The State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is therefore pleased that the number of foreign students choosing to further their education in the U.S. again increased in the 2000-2001 academic year. In the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States, and the ongoing challenges facing our nation, we reaffirm our commitment to the ideals of international exchange as a force for understanding."

Open Doors 2001 reports that this year's 6.4% increase in international enrollment in U.S. colleges and universities is the largest increase in the past 20 years. This continues an upswing in international enrollment that began in 1997, after a four-year period of minimal growth.

Open Doors 2001 reports that for the third year in a row, China has led the growth of international student enrollment as the top sending country (up 10%, to 59,939). India, which increased by more than 29% (to 54,664) this year, had the largest growth of the top 20 sending countries and for the first time has surpassed Japan as the second-leading sender of foreign students. While student enrollment from Japan fell nearly 1% to 46,497, the country remained the third-largest sender despite the large growth of students sent by Korea (up nearly 11% to 45,685). The number of students from Korea had decreased markedly (by 9%, to 39,199 in 1998-99) due to the Asian economic downturn, but has now surpassed its previous high after two years of growth. Japan had the largest number of students in the United States for four years (1995-98), but the number of students has shown small increases or even slight decreases over the past eight years, and Japan was surpassed by China last year and India this year.

Open Doors 2001 reports a continued slump in enrollments from several parts of Asia affected by economic downturns, including Japan (down 1% to 46,497), Taiwan (down 2% to 28,566), and especially Malaysia, which dropped off the list of the top ten senders last year and continues to fall (down 14% to 7,795). Among the notable increases (in addition to India and China) are students from Korea (up almost 11% to 45,685), Canada (up more than 7% to 25,279), and Turkey (up nearly 9% to 10,983), which rose to ninth position from tenth position last year.

While numbers of international students increased by a total of 15% across every type of higher education institution since 1993, international student enrollment growth is particularly strong at U.S. community colleges, which saw an increase of 50% throughout the same period. In the past year alone the number has risen more than 7% to 91,737.

Highlights from Open Doors 2001:

(Note: Additional statistics are available on IIE's website at

China is the leading place of origin for international students (59,939), followed by India (54,664), Japan (46,497), Korea (45,685), Taiwan (28,566), Canada (25,279), Indonesia (11,625), Thailand (11,187), Turkey (10,983) and Mexico (10,670).

Asian students comprise over one-half (55%) of all international enrollments (302,058, up 8%), followed by students from Europe (80,584 up 3%), Latin and South America (63,634 up 2.5%), the Middle East (36,858 up 6%), Africa (34,217 up 13%), and North America (25,888, up 7%).

New York University first: For the fourth year in a row, New York University's foreign student enrollment (5,399), was the largest, followed this year by University of Southern California (5,321), Columbia University (4,837), Purdue University Main Campus (4,469), Boston University (4,443), and University of Texas at Austin (4,320). One hundred and forty-six U.S. colleges and universities hosted 1,000 or more international students. The 25 campuses with the largest international enrollment each hosted more than 3,000 international students.

California leads the nation in hosting international students (up more than 12% to 74,281), followed by New York (up 6% to 58,286), Texas (up 5% to 37,735), Massachusetts (up 4% to 29,395), Florida (up 2% to 25,366) and Illinois (up 6% to 24,229). Of the leading host states, California had the strongest growth in international student enrollment.

Funds from home: International students contribute more than $ 11 billion 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, as these students bring money into the national economy and provide revenue to their host states for living expenses, including room/board, books and supplies, transportation, health insurance, support for accompanying family members, and other miscellaneous items. Over two-thirds (67%) of all international students receive the majority of their funds from family and personal sources. Over three-quarters receive most of their funding from sources outside of the United States.

The most popular fields of study for international students in the U.S. are business and management (19%), engineering (15%), and mathematics and computer sciences (12% and increasing rapidly, with a 18% rise since the previous year.)

The Open Doors report is published by the Institute of International Education, the leading not-for-profit educational and cultural exchange organization in the United States. IIE has conducted the annual statistical survey of the international students in the United States since 1949, and with support from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs since the early 1970s. The census is based on a survey of over 2,700 accredited U.S. institutions, with a 92% response. Open Doors also reports on international scholars at U.S. universities and international students enrolled in pre-academic Intensive English Programs, as well as U.S. students studying abroad, based on separate surveys.

Open Doors 2001 is available from IIE Books for $42.95. The new edition provides approximately 100 pages of data and graphics highlighting key facts and trends in international student and faculty flows. Open Doors 2001 can be ordered by phone at 800-445-0443 (toll free in U.S.), by e-mail from, or from the IIE Online Bookstore: Custom research reports based on the most currently available international student data are available for a fee from IIE Research at 212-984-5348. A limited number of review copies of the report are available to the press from IIE's media relations counsel, Halstead Communications/College Connections. Call Deborah Gardner/Heidi Reinholdt at 212-734-2190, or e-mail


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IIE Experts

IIE experts on international education are available for interviews or speaking engagements.

Dr. Allan E. Goodman
President and CEO

Peggy Blumenthal 
Senior Counselor to the President