This is the VOA Special English Education Report.
A new report says the number of foreign students in the United States reached a record high in two thousand eight.
More than six hundred seventy thousand international students attended an American college or university last year. That was eight percent higher than the year before, the largest percentage increase since nineteen eighty.
The "Open Doors" report is published by the Institute of International Education, with support from the State Department.
It says the number of international students last year was almost fifteen percent higher than the last record setting year, two thousand two. In all, seven of the ten top countries sent more students last year, just as the economic downturn was worsening.
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China again sent the second largest number, more than ninety-eight thousand, an increase of twenty-one percent. The biggest increases were in Chinese undergraduate students.
South Korea was third. The number of South Korean students increased nine percent to seventy-five thousand.
Canada was the only non-Asian country in the top five. It rose two percent to fourth place. Almost thirty thousand Canadian students enrolled for the school year that began last autumn.
Japan fell to fifth place. The number of Japanese students in the United States decreased for the fourth year, to just over twenty-nine thousand.
Taiwan also sent fewer students, and the number from Mexico was nearly unchanged.
The University of Southern California in Los Angeles once again had the highest number of foreign students. The "Open Doors" report says nearly seven thousand five hundred attended U.S.C. last year.
New York University and Columbia University, both in New York City, were second and third. The other schools in the top five were the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Business and management was again the most popular area of study for international students. The next most popular subjects are engineering, math and computer science.
And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by June Simms. You can find our Foreign Student Series with advice on studying in the United States at 51voa.com. I'm Steve Ember.