A Look At The Open Doors Report – What the Numbers Reveal

Globe of Africa and International Currencies in BackgroundAA049180Though some may have doubted it, the data proves otherwise: the United States is still the number 1 place for students studying abroad. Late last month, the Institute of International Education released findings which show no signs of a slowdown thanks in part to government scholarships that have fueled much of the growth. In the 2013-2014 academic year, 886,052 international students helped break the record for how many students are studying in the US. Growth in study abroad also increased bringing the new total to 289,408 students.

What do these numbers show and indicate?

Demographic Shift

The Open Doors Report reinforces what many of us are seeing on our campuses: lots of Chinese nationals, and a good bit of growth from countries with scholarship programs. After speaking to many international educators, it comes as no surprise that Chinese students make up most of our on-campus foreign population. While China has seen some slowdown in its growth, we anticipate that this decline will continue – albeit at a sloth’s pace.

It is important to note, however, that there are exceptions to this rule and there has been a steep increase of Brazilians, Saudis and Kuwaitis on campus. We expect to see this trend persist, with greater growth from the Americas, thanks in part to the 100,000 Strong Initiative.

Who’s Paying for It

If you’ve read our previous blogs on the growth of government scholarships, then you already know that the largest growth in primary sources of funding comes from foreign governments/universities as well as international organizations. Conversely, though, the sharpest decline in primary funding came from the US government, which dropped 34.6%. This is unsurprising, because despite the fact that President Obama has made a platform of programs like the 100 Strong Initiative and others, not much of the overall US budget is devoted to bringing students to study here.

What is the US Getting Out of It

It’s a pretty sweet deal, if you ask us. According to the Open Door’s Report Press Release, “The continued growth in international students coming to the U.S. for higher education has a significant positive economic impact on the United States.” How much, you ask? NAFSA reported $26.8 billion. NAFSA went on to say that for every seven international students, three US jobs were created. And it’s not just us – those in international high education or a business specializing in providing services to international students – but it’s also sectors including accommodation, dining, and retail. Analyzing the data even further, this economic infusion isn’t just concentrated in a handful of states. It’s spread throughout the United States where increases in the overall international student population can be felt (41 states, to be exact). Beyond the dollar signs, let’s not forget our very own US students. These international students are contributing to our research, bringing international perspectives to our classrooms, and arguably forging relationships in the US that can later bring economic benefits. Not too shabby when we’re talking about the investments that we are putting into bringing international students to the US.

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