US 'Open Doors' for International Students

28 November, 2015

More international students are studying at U.S. colleges and universities than ever before, a new report says.

The report shows that nearly a million international students are studying at U.S. universities. That's among more than 20 million students at all U.S. universities. This is the highest number of international students on record since 1954.

International students added $30.8 billion to the U.S. economy over the past year.

Chinese students wait outside the U.S. Embassy for their visa application interviews in Beijing, China.
Chinese students wait outside the U.S. Embassy for their visa application interviews in Beijing, China.

Open Doors is the name of the report. Every year the U.S. Department of State and the Institute of International Education (or IIE) work together to release an annual report. IIE studies and supports international student exchange.

The Department of State and IIE released the 2015 Open Doors report last week.

Allan Goodman, Ph.D., is the president of IIE. Goodman told VOA he thinks having more international students in the U.S. is good for the future.

"I think it's clear that being a global citizen... matters deeply to the next generation of students and our future leaders... We're hoping here at the Institute that international [study] increasingly becomes a part of everybody's education... because it's the only way we can really learn about the world we share."

The number of international students in the U.S. has increased since 2006. It increased 10 percent between 2014 and 2015. That was the highest increase in 35 years.

China sent more students to study in the U.S. in 2015 than any other country, the report states: 304,040. That is an increase of 10.8 percent from last year.

India sent more students to the U.S. than it had in its past. It sent the second largest number of students to the U.S. with 132,888.

Rajika Bhandari is the Deputy Vice President of Research and Evaluation for IIE. She said more Indian students are coming to the top-level science and technology facilities at U.S. universities.

"What the data shows us is that the United States is still the Number One destination for students who seek a global education."

Bhandari also said that programs for international students can make a lot of change. She suggested that a program called "One Hundred Thousand Strong in The Americas" helped increase the number of students from Latin America and the Caribbean.

"One Hundred Thousand Strong in the Americas" is a combined effort of the U.S. Department of State and several education and development organizations. The program helps make international study between Latin America and the U.S easier and more affordable.

"The number of students from Latin America and the Caribbean increased by almost 20 percent ... making this the fastest growing region of origin for international students."

Brazil sent 23,675 students to the U.S. That is 79 percent more than in 2014. The Brazil Scientific Mobility Program helped pay for the students. This program pays for science and mathematics students to study at U.S. universities for one year.

Government scholarships were also important for students from the Middle East. Saudi Arabia had the fourth highest number of students in the U.S., with 59,945. That is an increase from last year of 11.2 percent.

Kuwait increased its number of students by 24 percent. Both countries' governments have programs that pay for some of their students to study in other countries.

Foreign governments pay 7.7 percent of fees for their students to study in the U.S.

The U.S. government is also trying to increase the number of U.S. students studying in foreign countries.

Evan Ryan is the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs for the U.S. Department of State. She said that international student exchange makes stronger connections between countries.

"Exchange programs help... U.S. foreign policy goals. They develop the relationships between people and communities... And they [give students] the language skills and global perspectives they need to succeed in their careers," she said.

The number of U.S. students studying in foreign countries increased by 5.2 percent to 304,467 in 2014, the Open Doors report says.

The Department of State opened a Study Abroad office in Washington, D.C. in March. The office manages several scholarship programs for American students who want to study in other countries. The office's website also shares news and resources for students and parents.

The goal is to increase the number of U.S. university students who study in other countries.

"It is [very important] that we continue to work to make study abroad more accessible. These exchanges [improve] ties between the United States and countries around the world," Ryan said.

I'm Pete Musto.

Pete Musto reported and wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.


Words in This Story

annualadj. happening once a year

globaladj. involving the entire world

facilities n. something such as a building or large piece of equipment that is built for a specific purpose

datan. facts or information used usually to calculate, analyze, or plan something

destinationn. a place to which a person is going or something is being sent

affordable adj. at a low enough cost that it is easy to pay for

regionn. a part of a country or the world that is different or separate from other parts in some way

originn. the place, social situation, or type of family that a person comes from

scholarship(s) – n. an amount of money that is given by a school, government or organization to a student to help pay for the student's education

perspective(s) – n. a way of thinking about and understanding something such as a particular issue or life in general

accessibleadj. able to be used or obtained

Now it's your turn. Do you want to study at University in the United States? What are the options for students from other countries who want to study at a university in your country? Let us know in the comments section below or on 51VOA.COM.