China and India occupy the top two spots in contributing foreign students to the United States, with the international education sector bringing in $21.3 billion into the domestic economy, a new report said.
Together, the top three sending countries – China, India and South Korea – comprise nearly half (46 %) of the total international enrollments in US higher education, said the report released yesterday by the Institute of International Education.
Led by a surge of students from China, international student enrollment increased by five % in 2010-2011, the report said.
"Chinese student enrollment in the United States rose to a total of nearly 158,000 students, or nearly 22 % of the total international student population, making China the leading sending country for the second year in a row," it said.
"Students from India, the second largest international cohort in the United States, decreased by one % to a total of nearly 104,000. Yet, India, as a destination for US students study abroad, increased 44.4 %," it said.
"While slightly declining in numbers, students from India still represent 14 % of all international students in US higher education, with tens of thousands more students from India in US higher education than in any other host country," the report said.
South Korea is the third leading place of origin, with more than 73,000 students, increasing by two % and making up 10 % of the total.
According to the report, increased numbers of students from China, particularly at the undergraduate level, largely accounts for the growth this past year.
"Chinese students increased by 23 % in total and by 43 % at the undergraduate level," it said.
These increases have been felt across the United States, with the top 20 host universities and top 10 host states each hosting more international students than in the prior year.
Women represent approximately 45 % of the total number of international students, it said.
These strong increases have significant economic impact on the US, as international students contribute more than $ 21 billion to the US economy, through their expenditures on tuition and living expenses, according to the US Department of Commerce, it said.
"Because of the excellence and diversity of our colleges and universities, more students worldwide are choosing to study in the US," said Assistant Secretary of State Ann Stock.
"It is positive news that our higher education institutions continue to excel in attracting students from all over the world, and in preparing American students to succeed in an increasingly global environment," said Allan Goodman, president and CEO of the Institute of International Education.