Press Release

International Student Enrollment in U.S. Rebounds

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Open Doors 2007: International Students in the United States

Deborah Gardner

Sharon Witherell

Data Tables for Open Doors 2007 International Students: Click here >>



Total foreign student enrollment increased by 3%; New enrollment up 10%
Strong increases from top three sending countries: India up 10%, China up 8%, Korea up 6%
USC is top host university; California is top host state; NYC is top host city;
Business and Management is top field of study

WASHINGTON D.C., November 12, 2007 -- The number of international students enrolled in colleges and universities in the United States increased by 3% to a total of 582,984 in the 2006/07 academic year, according to the Open Doors report, published annually by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with support from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This is the first significant increase in total international student enrollments since 2001/02. Open Doors reports an even higher increase in the number of new international students, those enrolled for the first time at a college or university in fall 2006, which rose 10% from the previous year.

A separate on-line survey conducted by IIE last month in conjunction with seven national higher education associations provides an early snapshot of what campuses are experiencing in the current Fall 2007 semester, and suggests anecdotally that campuses are beginning to see increases. (Survey results are available at In addition, a report from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs showed the number of student and exchange visas issued in FY 2007 rose 10.2% compared to the same period last year.

According to Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes, "The increase in enrollments we see in this year's Open Doors statistics reflects the dynamism, diversity and excellence of U.S. higher education institutions in a competitive international environment, and demonstrates the commitment of the U.S. government and U.S. higher education leaders to welcoming international students." The Department of State supports EducationUSA advising centers around the world, which provide international students and their families with information about the wide range of opportunities offered by American colleges and universities. Over the past year, in order to promote U.S. education and the value of study in the U.S., the Department of State has also sponsored, in collaboration with the Department of Education, high level visits to East Asia, South Asia and South America by senior U.S. government officials and U.S. college and university presidents. The delegations reiterate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's message that "America's mission in this new century must be to welcome more foreign students to our nation."

According to Allan E. Goodman, President and CEO of the Institute of International Education, "Vigorous efforts at the national, state and campus levels have combined to produce this rebounding of international student enrollments. Given increased global competition for talent, as well as expanded higher education options in many of the leading sending countries, America needs to continue its proactive steps to insure that our academic doors remain wide open, and that students around the world understand that they will be warmly welcomed."

Open Doors 2007 reports increases in the number of students in higher education from six of the ten leading places of origin, with particularly large increases from the top three: India remains the leading sending place of origin by a large margin, experiencing a 10% increase to 83,833. This is the 6th consecutive year that India has sent the most students to the United States. China remains in second place, with numbers up 8% to 67,723; and the Republic of Korea, in third place, increased 6% to 62,392.

Asia remains the largest sending region, accounting for 59% of total U.S. international enrollments, and increasing by 5% this year. Enrollments from East Asia increased by 3% this year, with strong increases from China, South Korea and Taiwan partially offset by declines from Japan and Hong Kong. The number of students from South & Central Asia increased by 10%, driven by the large increases from India, while enrollments from Pakistan and Bangladesh declined. Southeast Asian enrollments increased 2% in 2006/07, with gains from Vietnam and Thailand partially offset by declines from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia.

Enrollments from the Middle East increased by 25% in 2006/07, according to Open Doors. The most notable increase was in the number of students from Saudi Arabia. Significant percentage increases (from lower base numbers) were also seen in students from Iran, Iraq and the Palestinian Authority. There were declines in the numbers of students coming from several countries in the region, including Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, and the UAE.

The number of students from 12 of the top 20 places of origin increased in 2006/07. Of the eight countries in the top 20 that experienced declines, only three decreased by more than 3%. Saudi Arabia joined the top 20 list at #12 this year, with a total of 7,886, reflecting the results of a large Saudi Arabian government scholarship program launched in 2005. Vietnam is also new to the top 20 this year, moving up to #20 with an increase of 31% to 6,036. Also noteworthy is the 28% increase in enrollments from Nepal (#13, with 7,754), following a 25% increase during the previous year. The sharpest decline was from Japan (#4, down 9% to 35,282); Indonesia (#15) was down 3% to 7,338 and Kenya (#19) declined 3% to 6,349. Kenya was the only African country in the top 20 this past year, with Nigeria dropping out.

Among the leading fields of study for international students in the U.S., Business remains the leading field, with 18% percent of the total, closely followed by Engineering with 15%. The field which experienced the largest increase in enrollments was Intensive English, up 30% from the prior year. The Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has been strongly supporting efforts to expand English learning and restore this vital sector in the international student exchange category.

Increases in international student enrollments were reported in nearly every state in 2006/07, according to Open Doors 2007. Colleges and universities in California enrolled the largest number of foreign students with 77,987, up 3.5%, followed by New York with 65,884, up 2.5%, and Texas with 49,081, up 5%. The New York City metropolitan area was the leading destination for international students, with 51,973 enrolled in area schools. The Los Angeles metropolitan area followed with 35,870 international students.

For the sixth consecutive year, Open Doors reports that the University of Southern California enrolled the largest number of international students, with a record 7,115. Columbia University remains in second place with 5,937 international students and New York University moved up to third place this year with 5,827 international students. Rounding out the top five 2006/07 host institutions are University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (#4) and Purdue University (#5). Colleges and universities new to the top ten host institution list this year are UCLA (#8) and Harvard (#9). New to the top 20 host institutions list this year are Arizona State-Tempe (#14) and Michigan State (#16), University of Wisconsin-Madison (#19) and Stanford University (#20). Open Doors reports that 156 U.S. campuses each hosted more than 1,000 students. (For the lists of top host institutions by Carnegie type, see

International students contribute approximately $14.5 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 2007 reports that 61.5% of all international students receive the majority of their funds from personal and family sources. When other sources of foreign funding are included, such as assistance from their home country governments or universities, a total of two thirds (66%) of all international students' primary funding comes from sources outside of the United States.

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Highlights from Open Doors 2007:

Note: Extensive data tables are available on IIE's website at

India is the leading place of origin for international students in the U.S. with 83,833 in 2006/07 (an increase of 10% from the previous year), followed by #2 China (67,723 up 8% ) #3 Korea (62,392, up 6%), #4 Japan (35,282, down 9%), #5 Taiwan (29,094, up 4%), #6 Canada (28,280, up less than 1%), #7 Mexico (13,826, down 1%), #8 Turkey (11,506, down 1%), #9 Thailand (8,886, up 1%), #10 Germany (8,656, down 2%), #11 United Kingdom (8,438 up 2%), #12 Saudi Arabia (7,886, up 129%), #13 Nepal (7,754, up 28%), #14 Hong Kong (7,722 down 2%), #15 Indonesia (7,338 down 3%) #16 Brazil (7,126, up 2%), #17 Colombia (6,750, down 1%), #18 France (6,704, up 1%), #19 Kenya (6,349, down 3%), #20 Vietnam (6,036, up 31%). (For further details on the trends from each of these leading places of origin, go to the Open Doors website and click on "Country Sheets").

The top ten most popular fields of study for international students in the U.S. in 2006/07 were Business and Management (18% of total), Engineering (15%) and Physical and Life Sciences (9%), followed closely by Social Sciences (8%), Mathematics and Computer Sciences (8%), Fine & Applied Arts (5%) Health Professions (5%), Intensive English Language (4%), Education (3%), Humanities (3%). Fields experiencing growth include Intensive English Language (up 30%) and Social Sciences (up 6%). Undeclared majors are excluded from the rankings of top fields of study

University of Southern California hosts the largest number of international students. For the sixth year in a row, the University of Southern California is the leading host institution (7,115). Columbia University hosts the second highest number of foreign students (5,937). Other campuses in the top 10 are: New York University (5,827), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (5,685), Purdue University (5,581), University of Michigan - Ann Arbor (5,429), University of Texas at Austin (5,303), UCLA (4,704), Harvard (4,514), Boston University (4,484), and University of Pennsylvania (4,484).

California remains the leading host state for international students (77,987, up 3.5%), followed by New York (65,884, up 2.5%), Texas (49,081, up 5%), Massachusetts (28,680, up 2%), Florida (26,875, up 3%), Illinois (25,594, up 2%), Pennsylvania (23,182, up 3%) , Michigan (21,143, up 1.5%), Ohio (18,607, up 3%), and Indiana (14,450, up 3%). All of the top 20 leading hosting states experienced increases in foreign student enrollments, with North Carolina (6%), Maryland (5%) and Texas (5%) having the largest percentage increases. (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").

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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 close to 3,000 accredited U.S. institutions. Open Doors also reports on surveys on international scholars at U.S. universities and international students enrolled in pre-academic Intensive English Programs, and on U.S. students studying abroad, based a separate survey begun in 1985. A full press kit and further details on the Open Doors 2007 surveys and their findings can be accessed on, 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 40,000 participants annually, with the goal of increasing mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. ECA manages the EducationUSA network of advising offices ( for students around the world who want to study in the United States. For more information on the Department of State's educational and cultural exchange activities, visit

Open Doors 2006 International Student Data Tables: Click here >>

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