China Leads Surge of Foreign Students into US Colleges

Article excerpt

When Texas Gov. Rick Perry declared this "International Education Week," he waxed eloquent about the "era of global exchange" - American students heading abroad in increasing numbers, while foreign students flood Texas universities, returning home "with a greater understanding of the values we hold dear."

He might also have noted that the nearly 60,000 foreign students studying in Texas, constitute a critical economic boost for the state, particularly in lean times - paying professors' salaries, buying books, furnishing dorm rooms, clothing themselves, and eating.

An all-time high of 671,616 foreign students studied in US colleges and universities in the 2008-09 academic year, according to the annual Open Doors report by the Institute of International Education (IIE). All told, those students spent nearly $18 billion across the US, according to a separate report also issued today by NAFSA, a nonprofit association promoting international education.

Together, the two reports paint a picture of a world of increasingly globalized education: foreigners prize an American college education more and more every year, and American students consider some amount of study abroad a requisite part of their education.

Among the reports' highlights:

* China was largely responsible for the year's 8 percent growth in foreign students in the US, sending nearly one-quarter more students than last academic year - or about 98,000. But unlike in the past, more of those Chinese students are undergraduates - not graduate students - as wealthy Chinese families pay for the international gold standard in education for their one child.

* Four countries increased their number of America-bound students by 20 percent or more: China, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam. Vietnam vaulted into the Top 10 with nearly 13,000 students in the US - a 46 percent jump over the previous year. …