U.S. universities have had a banner year in attracting foreign students, according to recent report from the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the State Department. The WaPo summarizes:
There were 886,052 foreigners enrolled in U.S. higher education in the 2013-2014 school year, the Institute of International Education and the State Department said in a report called “Open Doors.” The total rose more than 66,000 compared with 2012-2013, the eighth straight year of growth.Chinese students make up 31 percent of foreign enrollment, the largest single bloc. Their total grew 17 percent, to about 274,000. The number of Saudi students grew 21 percent, to nearly 54,000. Saudi Arabia now ranks fourth as a student exporter to the United States.India, which ranks second, sent about 103,000 students, up 6 percent. South Korea, which ranks third, sent about 68,000, down 4 percent.
According to the Department of Commerce, international students enriched the American economy to the tune of more than $27 billion in 2013. Given that many schools are still cash-strapped after the recession, these students are an important source of revenue. Public schools now see far less funding from states than they used to, for one thing, and international students (as out-of state students) pay several times the price of in-state tuition. Indeed, raising fees for out-of-state students was floated as an alternative to hiking in-state rates during the recent blow-up over California tuition hikes. That’s a trade-off that other state systems have certainly made, and will keep making.
But though the U.S. still attracts the lion’s share of international students, other countries are stepping up. As CNN Money reports, according to OECD data (which only runs through 2012), the U.S. doesn’t dominate the market in international students in quite the way it once did:
In 2000, nearly one in four students looking for education abroad picked a college in the U.S. […] In 2012 — the latest year for which data is available — it was just 16%.Although the U.S. still attracts the highest proportion of foreign students, other countries are becoming increasingly popular, biting into the U.S. market share.All other English-speaking developed countries and Spain have increased their share of foreign students.The United Kingdom has seen the biggest growth in its share, trailing closely behind the U.S. with 12.6%. This is good news for British universities; foreign students pay up to three times more in tuition than students from Britain and the EU.
The OECD predicts that the number of students studying abroad worldwide will nearly double by 2025, reaching 8 million—so there may be plenty of students to go around for a while yet. The trends in market share are well worth watching, however. While the U.S. is still in the lead, we’re not the only country whose higher education system is feeling the strain of a global economic slowdown. If other countries keep getting more successful at soliciting foreign students, the U.S. may eventually find itself with stiffer competition for a valuable resource.