Press Release

India's student total in U.S. drops but remains #1; Korea's student total up 10%

Contact: Deborah Gardner, 212/734-2190 

Overall Foreign Student Numbers Stabilize, Ending Two-Year Decline
India's student total in U.S. drops but remains #1; Korea's student total up 10%

USC remains top host university; California remains top host state; New York sees large increase
WASHINGTON D.C., November 13, 2006 -- 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 Open Doors 2006, the annual report on international academic mobility published by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with support from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. 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. The new Open Doors report shows total international student enrollments that are virtually flat compared to the previous year, along with a rise in new international enrollments for 2005/06, suggesting that international enrollments have stabilized and are poised to rebound.

A new analysis included in Open Doors for the first time shows colleges and universities reporting an 8% increase in new enrollments for 2005/06, with 142,923 newly enrolled students in Fall 2005, compared to 131,945 the previous Fall. A more recent on-line survey which IIE conducted jointly last month with seven other national higher education associations to provide an early snapshot of Fall 2006 enrollments shows 52% of U.S. campuses reporting increases in new enrollments for Fall 2006, and only 20% reporting declines (28% reported no change). (See for details.) These findings, together with a report from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs showing a strong rise in the number of student visas issued in the year ending September 2006, indicate that foreign student numbers are increasing in the current academic year.

According to Allan E. Goodman, President and CEO of the Institute of International Education, "America's colleges and universities have begun to see positive results from their proactive efforts to recruit international students and make them feel welcome on campus. With several thousand campuses able to host international students (ten times as many as any of the other leading host countries), the US has a huge untapped capacity to meet the growing worldwide demand for higher education."

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. Each of these top five host campuses reported an increase in the total number of international students this year. Open Doors reports that 142 U.S. campuses each hosted more than 1,000 students. (For the lists of top host institutions by Carnegie type, see

Open Doors 2006 reports increases in the number of students from seven of the ten leading places of origin, with particularly large increases from the Republic of Korea (third place, up 10% to 58, 847), Taiwan (sixth place, up 8% to 27,876), and Mexico (seventh place, up 7% to 13,931). India remains the largest sending country by a large margin, although the number of students declined by 5% this year to 76,503. Mainland China remains in second place, with numbers steady at 62,582 (up 0.1%). Students from Hong Kong, now the 12th leading place of origin (up from #15), increased by 9% to 7,849. Notable increases of 25% each were seen in students from Nepal (moving up to #19) with 6,061 students, and Vietnam (now #24), with 4,597 students. Among the top 20 senders, the sharpest rates of declines in 2005/06 were seen in students from fourth-place Japan (down 8% to 38,712), eighth-place Turkey (down 7% to 11,622, reversing last year’s growth of 9%), 15th-place Colombia (down 7% to 6,835), and 20th-place Pakistan (down 8.5% to 5,759). Malaysia, with a 10% decrease to 5,515 students, was the only country to drop out of the top 20.

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, with 3% and 2% gains from East and Southeast Asia balanced by a 3% decline in students from South and Central Asia.

Strong increases from a number of countries in the Middle East offset continued declines in the number of students from several other countries this year. Among the larger senders, most notable was the increase in the number of students from Saudi Arabia (up 14% to 3,448), which is consistent with a new Saudi government program that began to make scholarship awards in fall 2005. In addition, students from Israel increased by 3% to 3,419, reversing a decline of 4% the previous year. There were declines in the numbers of students coming from a number of other countries in the region, including Lebanon, UAE, Syria, and Qatar. (Note: Turkey and Cyprus have been included in the total for Europe this year, so totals for the Middle East are not directly comparable to the region’s total in Open Doors 2005. However, looking at the year-to-year total from just those countries now listed as Middle East, enrollments from the region increased by 2%.)

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, 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. Open Doors 2006 reports that 63% of all international students receive the majority of their funds from family and personal sources, and, when other sources of funding from their home countries, including assistance from their home country governments or universities, are added in, a total of more than 68% of all international student funding comes from sources outside of the United States.

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Highlights from Open Doors 2006:
Note: Extensive data tables are available on IIE’s website at

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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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 close to 3,000 accredited U.S. institutions. 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 Open Doors 2006 surveys and their findings can be accessed at, and the full 100 page report can be ordered for $49.95 from IIE Books at

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State manages a wide range of academic, professional, and cultural exchanges that include approximately 30,000 participants annually, with the goal of increasing mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. For more information, visit


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