Indian Student Enrolment in US Rises 30% to 130,000
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Indian Student Enrolment in US Rises 30% to 130,000

Indian Student Enrolment in US Rises 30% to 130,000

New data has shown that a record number of international students are choosing to study in America, while numbers of American students moving to study abroad continues to decline.

The data, released by the non-profit Institute of International Education (IIE), shows that international students in the US grew by ten percent last year, the biggest single-year gain in more than 35 years.

In all, the number of Indian students in the US grew by 30 percent to more than 130,000, the biggest jump since the non-profit began collecting data in 1954.

Of more than one million students who came to the US in academic year 2014-15, about a third came from China, the most of any country. However, according to the experts, much of last year’s growth is credited to the surge from India, where students were drawn in by the attraction of strong academics and research programs.

“That increase has been primarily at the graduate level, and we know that Indian students have always been very attracted to the availability of excellent science and research facilities on US campuses,” said Rajika Bhandari, the non-profit’s deputy vice president for research and evaluation.

In three years, the number of Indian students enrolled at the University of Southern California has risen from 1,300 to more than 2,000. At other schools like Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, populations of Indian students have increased over time, though in recent years they’ve held fairly steady.

Earlier in 2015, the Department of Homeland Security released a report that claimed the number of international students being accepted by American universities had reached an all-time high of 1.13 million. This number is up 14 percent from last year’s figures, and nearly 50 percent from numbers in 2010.

Numbers of students from Brazil spiked from 13,000 up to 23,000, yet Brazilian nationals made up only two percent of America’s international student population.

For the second year in a row, New York University was home to the largest number of international students with more than 13,000. The University of Southern California followed in close second, hosting more than 11,000 students. Columbia and Arizona State University came in fourth and fifth, also hosting more than 11,000 students from overseas.

The IIE also reported that last year alone, international students contributed $30 billion to the US economy.

While the States remains a top study destination for international students, fewer American students are choosing to study abroad. In 2013-14, the most recent year for which US student figures are available, around 300,000 domestic students left the country to study abroad; this number is steadily rising but still represents less than 2 percent of all US undergraduate students.

“This rate of growth is not good enough,” said Bhandari, “We really do need to double or even triple this rate of growth.”

In order to hike up the numbers, the US Department of State plans to open a brand new Study Abroad Office which will provide prospective students with information on available programs and scholarships.

“We are going to be working very actively on outreach to explain the benefits of study abroad and encourage more Americans to participate,” said Marianne Craven, the acting deputy assistant secretary of state for academic programs.

The office, due to open next week, plans to help low income and minority students. Last year, approximately 75 percent of US students who studied abroad were white, a number that has decreased only slightly throughout the past decade. Black students made up just 6 percent of the total number of students who studied abroad last year.

Top destinations for US students are the UK, Italy and Spain. European students drew 50 percent of all US students who applied to study abroad.

Colleges have also been pushing students to increase their global mobility, citing the increasing benefits of cultural exchange and international experience for years. A number of US institutions have signed onto a national campaign that hopes to encourage all students to invest in their own passport.

The majority of educational institutions in America, including universities within growing regions, have ramped up their game in recruiting international students. Craven says this is because, “They know that attracting international students to their campuses makes for a better student body.”

As a new academic year approaches, what is to become of America’s reputation as the world’s favourite study abroad destination?

Image via AP Images.

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