The number of international students attending U.S. colleges and universities increased by only 0.9% this year, continuing a seven-year trend of minimal growth, according to a report released by the Institute of International Education (IIE), the nation’s leading non-profit international exchange and training organization. The report also finds that the number of Americans studying overseas increased nearly 6% over the previous year (in which an 11% increase had been recorded), and continues a healthy decade-long growth trend. Open Doors, IIE’s annual report on international educational exchange puts the number of foreign students attending U.S. colleges and universities during the 1996-97 academic year at 457,984 which is up from last year’s 453,787. The number of Americans studying overseas for credit in the academic year 1995-96 (the most recent year for which these statistics are available) is 89,242, up from 84,403 in the preceding year. Highlights of the study, Open Doors 1996-97, are available on IIE’s website.
“While the number of international students attending U.S. institutions of higher education increased only slightly over the previous year, community colleges and intensive English programs have shown that they can successfully attract more individuals from overseas,” said Dr. John P. Loiello, Associate Director for Educational and Cultural Affairs, United States Information Agency.
Open Doors reports that foreign students bring over 7 billion dollars into the economy each year. According to the Department of Commerce, making U.S. higher education the country’s fifth largest service sector export. In addition, it is estimated that over 100,000 full and part-time jobs in state and local economies are created through money foreign students spend while studying in the United States.
Of the 89,242 Americans receiving credit for study abroad, nearly two thirds still head for the countries of Western Europe. The majority (65%) are women students, and the largest proportion major in humanities and social sciences.