Almost 900,000 international students are studying in American colleges and universities today. Nearly half of this record number of foreign students are from Asia, mainly China.
They are among people from other countries who now make up about 4 percent of all university students in the U.S. America has more of the world's 4.5 million international students than any other country.
A new report says more than 886,000 foreign students registered at U.S. universities during the school year 2013-2014. That is an increase of eight percent over the year before. The Institute of International Education and the State Department made the report.
The study also demonstrates trends over the past 15 years. It shows that since 2000, the number of international students in the U.S. has grown by 72 percent. Students from China in undergraduate programs are mainly responsible for this trend.
Eric Xu, a Chinese student at Columbia University, says studying in the U.S. is a valuable experience.
"In the U.S. they emphasize class discussions, and emphasize on your opinion, you can actually debate with others and with your professor or teacher, and that is an atmosphere I want to experience."
While attendance by Chinese students rose by almost 17 percent over the past year, other countries also saw a major increase. Kuwait's college student population rose by 42 percent and that of Brazil, by 22 percent. Other countries with more international students than earlier are Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela.
The report says the Middle East and North African area was the fastest growing in international student population. It showed an increase of 20 percent in students registered at colleges and universities. In Latin America and the Caribbean, there was an 8 percent increase.
Rajika Bhandari is a writer of the report and deputy vice president of research and evaluation at the Institute of International Education. She says the presence of foreign students in American schools helps the U.S. She also says about 4,000 American colleges and universities can serve more overseas students.
"We know that international students contribute significantly to U.S. classrooms and campuses through their global perspectives and by providing international exposure to those American students who may never have the opportunity to study overseas."
Evan Ryan, Assistance Secretary of State for Education says enrollment of students from abroad also adds to the U.S. economy.
"This year, $27 billion dollars was contributed to our economy at the local state and national levels, through payments for tuition, housing and other costs."
The U.S. State Department and the Department of Education also encourage study in other countries by American students.
"We believe that study abroad can increase American competitiveness by enabling U.S. students to acquire language skills as well as the regional and global perspectives necessary to succeed in the 21st century."
About 290,000 U.S. students went to study abroad in 2012-2013 for educational credit. Europe, especially Britain, remains the number-one nation for study by Americans. But the latest report shows an increase in the number of students who now choose to go to China and other nations.
Christine Farrugia is the senior research officer at the Institute of International Education. She says China places in the top five countries for American students seeking international education.
"China now is at the number five host country for U.S. students, hosting over 14,000 American students."
While American schools continue to welcome young people from all over the world, student exchanges among other countries also are on the rise.
I'm Marsha James.