Press Release

International Student Enrollment in U.S. Rose 6.4% in 2001/02, Matching Last Year's Increase as Highest Growth since 1980

India is the Top Sending Country

Additional IIE online survey shows international flows continue to be strong a year after 9/11

Editor's Note: Press are invited to a briefing to discuss the Open Doors data reported below and the impact and implications of September 11th on international student mobility.

"International Education: One Year Later"

Monday, November 18, 2002
9:30 a.m. -- National Press Club -- Washington, D.C.


WASHINGTON D.C., November 18, 2002 -- For the second consecutive year, the number of international students attending colleges and universities in the United States increased by 6.4%, bringing the total this year to a new record high of 582,996, according to Open Doors 2002, 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. Of particular note, India surpassed China as the leading country of origin for international students in the United States for the first time ever.

In celebration of International Education Week and in conjunction with the State Department, IIE is holding a special briefing today in Washington, D.C to discuss the report's findings. IIE is also releasing findings from a recent online survey of international education professionals that provides a closer look at how international education exchange has been affected in the year since the 9/11 attacks. Despite declines in enrollments this fall of students from certain Middle Eastern countries, survey results suggest that the overall numbers of international students will remain steady in 2002, according to educators from over 300 campuses who responded to this IIE online survey complementing the larger Open Doors annual census. (See for complete online survey and Open Doors 2002 data).

"These numbers are encouraging," said Patricia Harrison, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. "International education has become of paramount importance to economic, political, and social conditions in both developing and developed countries at all levels. Our ability to promote sustainable development, civil society, and international peace requires stronger educational and social institutions. Welcoming learners from abroad over the long term helps enormously to eliminate hostile preconceptions, to promote cultural relations and to attempt to solve conflicts peacefully."

According to IIE President Allan Goodman, "International students continue to see the U.S. as their premier study destination and our campuses continue to welcome them in record numbers, knowing that their presence in our classrooms strengthens our own understanding of global issues and improves the chances for peace and development around the globe."

Open Doors 2002 reports that this year's 6.4% increase in international enrollment in U.S. colleges and universities equals last year's increase, which was the largest increase in the past 20 years. This continues a trend of substantial growth in foreign student enrollments that began in 1997, after a four-year period of minimal growth.

Open Doors 2002 reports that, with a 22% increase in US enrollments by Indian students, India has surpassed China as the leading sending country. India's 66,836 students now represent 12% of the total number of international students in the United States. China, which had been the leading sending country for the previous three years, increased by only 6% to 63,211 (compared to a 10% increase in 2000/01). The Republic of Korea is the third-leading sender, increasing by 7% to 49,046 students, marking the third year of large increases, after decreases in the late 1990s reflecting the Asian economic crises. Japan, which had been the leading sending country from 1995/96 until 1998/99, when it was surpassed by China, showed a meager increase of 0.7% (with 46,810) and slipped to the fourth-leading country. Among the ten leading sending nations, Mexico also showed a strong increase of 17% to 12,518 students, moving into the 7th spot, up from number 10 last year, and Turkey, with an increase of 10%, moved ahead of Indonesia and Thailand this year, into 8th place.

Although international students comprise over 4% of America's total higher education population, Open Doors 2002 reports they contribute nearly $12 billion dollars to the U.S. economy in money spent on tuition, living expenses, and related costs. Nearly 75% of all international student funding comes from personal and family sources or other sources outside of the United States. Department of Commerce data describe U.S. higher education as the country's fifth largest service sector export.

Open Doors 2002 reports that the University of Southern California has surpassed New York University as the leading host institution in the United States, with 5,950 international students, compared to NYU's 5,504. However, The New York City Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) continues to host more foreign students than any other metropolitan area in the U.S., with 35,737 total, and New York's Columbia University is the third leading host campus, with 5,116 international students.

Open Doors 2002 reports that international student enrollment increased by nearly 30% across every type of higher education institution in the eight years since 1993. International student enrollment growth is particularly strong at U.S. community colleges, which saw an increase of more than 61% over the same period. In each of the past two years, the number of international students at community colleges has grown by 7%, bringing their 2001/02 total to 98,813, representing about one-fifth of all international students in the U.S.

Highlights from Open Doors 2002: (Note: Additional statistics are available on IIE's website at

India is the leading place of origin for international students (66,836), followed by China (63,211), Korea (49,046), Japan (46,810), Taiwan (28,930), Canada (26,514), Mexico (12,518), Turkey (12,091), Indonesia (11,614), and Thailand (11,606).

Asian students comprise over half (56%) of all international enrollments, followed by students from Europe (14%), Latin America (12%), the Middle East (7%), Africa (6%), and North America and Oceania (5%).

University of Southern California first: After four years as number one, New York University has been surpassed as the leading host institution by the University of Southern California (5,950). New York University's foreign student enrollment (5,504) was the second largest, followed this year by Columbia University (5,116), Purdue University Main Campus (4,695), University of Texas at Austin (4,673), and Boston University (4,412). One hundred and fifty U.S. colleges and universities hosted 1,000 or more international students. In 2001/02, there were 29 campuses that hosted more than 3,000 international students each.

California is the leading host state for international students (up 6% to 78,741), followed by New York (up 7% to 62,053), Texas (up 17% to 44,192), Massachusetts (up 2% to 29,988), Florida (up 12% to 28,303) and Illinois (up 5% to 25,498). Of the leading host states, Texas had the strongest growth in international student enrollment from 2000/01 to 2001/02 (+17%).

New York City has more international students than any other metropolitan area in the nation, with 35,737 total. The Los Angeles area hosts the second highest number of foreign students (28,573), followed by Boston (24,117), Washington DC (21,727), Chicago (16,170), Philadelphia (11,002), Houston (10,561), Dallas (9,390), San Jose (9,250), and San Francisco (8,375).

Funds from home: International students contribute nearly $12 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, 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. 68% of all international students receive the majority of their funds from family and personal sources. (Economic impact data developed by NAFSA: Association of International Education in partnership with IIE and the College Board.)

The most popular fields of study for international students in the U.S. are business and management (20%) and engineering (15%). Thirteen percent of international students are studying mathematics and computer sciences, the fastest growing major - with a 13% increase from last year, building on the previous year's increase of 18%.

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 response rate of approximately 90%. 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. A full press kit and further details on the surveys and their findings can be accessed on

Open Doors 2002 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 2002 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. 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