I'm Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Education Report.
Our Foreign Student Series continues with a report this month from the Institute of International Education. The report says the number of foreign students in the United States during the last school year decreased by more than two percent.
The institute, in New York, says this is the first drop in the number of foreign students in more than thirty years. More than five hundred seventy-two thousand attended American colleges and universities between September of last year and May of this year.
Officials counted five percent fewer undergraduates from other countries than the year before. However, the number of foreign graduate students increased. It was up by two and one-half percent.
For a third year, India sent the most students to the United States, just under eighty thousand. That was a seven percent increase from the year before. China sent the next highest number, sixty-one thousand. But that was down five percent from the year before.
South Korea was third, with fifty-two thousand students, up two percent. And Japan was fourth, with forty-thousand students. That was down eleven percent from the year before.
The school with the largest number of foreign students was, for a third year, the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Columbia University in New York City was second.
The report is called "Open Doors Two Thousand Four." It discusses reasons for the decrease in foreign students in the United States. These include difficulties getting a visa, higher costs and competition from schools in other English-speaking nations. Also, some people think foreign students are no longer welcome in the United States.
Education Department officials say they are working with other agencies to show that international students are welcome. And the number of students is expected to increase next year. The number of student visas approved in the first six months of this year was up eleven percent from the same period last year.
You can read more of the report on the Web site of the Institute of International Education: www.iie.org. And you can find our Foreign Student Series at voaspecialenglish dot com. Next week, in part fourteen, learn about ways to study in the United States through the Fulbright programs.
This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. I'm Gwen Outen.