You may have read in this paper last week that in 2007-08 India again sent more students to US colleges and universities than any other foreign country.
With a 13 per cent increase to 94,563 out of a total foreign student enrollment of 6,23,805, India stayed ahead of China, which accounted for 81,127.
The Open Doors report published by the Institute of International Education with support from the US State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs paints an interesting picture.
The geographical spread of Indian students is truly impressive. They were among the top 10 groups in 48 out of 50 states, the District of Columbia and two territories. (There were a dozen Indian students in the Caribbean territory of Puerto Rico.) The only states where Indians were missing from the Top 10 list were Alaska and Hawaii.
Indian students were the largest foreign group in 26 states. In 19 of these, their number exceeded 1,000. In California, New York and Minnesota, their number exceeded 1,000 but they did not constitute the largest group.
The largest Indian contingent was in California (8,299), followed by Texas (7,637), New York (7,234), Illinois (5,906) and Pennsylvania (4,504).
Another striking feature of the Indian student population was the preponderance of those seeking advanced degrees. At 13,639, undergraduates made up only 14.4 per cent of the group — the smallest share among all the countries.
Rounding out the top 10 behind India and China were South Korea (with 69,124 students), Japan, Canada, Taiwan, Mexico, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.
Overall, the most popular discipline was business and management, with 110,906 students — or more than one in six — opting for it. Engineering was the chosen field of 96,133 students, physical and life sciences of 52,867. There were 46,313 students in mathematics and computer science, 31,727 in fine and applied arts, 30,371 in liberal arts and sciences and 29,163 in health professions.
These big numbers mean big business too. Foreign students and their dependants contributed $15.5 billion to the US economy through tuition and fees and living expenses among other things, according to one estimate.
If enrollments at the institute with the largest number of foreign students, the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, are any indication, the growth trend continues.
James Grant, executive director of media relations at USC, told the Hindustan Times that admissions for Fall 2008-09 were higher than the previous year’s, though final figures are not available yet.