Chinese one-third of US foreign students: report

Chinese one-third of US foreign students: report

April 13, 2015 The number of international students studying in the United States has risen, bolstered by growth from China, according to a report from the Department of Homeland Security.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement program, on Wednesday released its quarterly report on international students in the US. There were 1.13 million foreign students in the country as of February, when the data were collected. These students held either an academic visa or a vocational visa, and were enrolled in nearly 9,000 US schools.

The number of foreign students in the US grew 14.2 percent compared with the January 2014 total, and 76 percent of the international students were from Asia. About one-third of the foreign students – 331,371- in the US are from China, according to the report. They make up a majority of the 855,807 students coming from Asia.

The top five countries of citizenship for international students are Chinese mainland, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Canada. A majority of the overseas students in the US are here for higher education programs, enrolled in either bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral programs, the SEVP said in the report.

The biggest destination for Asian students in the US is California, with the University of Southern California (USC) enrolling the highest number of international students overall, totaling 12,480. USC is followed by Purdue University (10,516), Columbia University (10,436), the University of Illinois (10,352) and New York University (10,334).

Tuitions are expensive, but that doesn’t deter the Chinese because they tend to offer much more financial aid than their Western counterparts elsewhere, said Peggy Blumenthal, senior counselor to the president at the Institute of International Education (IIE), a non-profit organization. There are more scholarship and grant opportunities and need-based and need-blind options for students applying for US colleges, she said.

USC, a private institution, charges $49,464 for tuition. Purdue University, a public university in Indiana, has three different tuition rates: $10,002 for Indiana residents, $28,804 for out-of-state residents and $30,804 for international students.

“They realize that US schools have far more scholarship opportunities than other schools, particularly at the graduate level,” Blumenthal said. “Very few countries in the world offer teaching assistance and fellowships based on merit that will allow students to come from not just the middle class but from any background.”

Now that British institutions and certain Australian universities have raised their tuitions, it’s no longer less expensive to study in Britain or Australia than in the US, which makes US options even more attractive to the Chinese, Blumenthal said.

The data collected by the SEVP similarly compares to figures compiled annually by the IIE. In its most recent report, in November, on international students in the US, the IIE measured that the number of Chinese students at US higher-education institutions increased 75 percent over the last three years to 275,000. The SEVP report also includes vocational schools and primary and secondary schools.

“The US has such a strong reputation – and a well-deserved reputation – in the fields that the Chinese are particularly interested in,” she said. “The Chinese are coming in for business, math and science and engineering, and these are fields where the US institutions really excel. The US, because of its quality and because of its capacity, is still going to be a very attractive destination.”

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