A new report by the Institute of International Education (IIE) found that the number of American students studying abroad has increased by 3%, raising that population to an all-time high. International students studying at colleges and universities in the United States also increased by a record 7%.
The Open Doors report revealed that students studying abroad increased to more than 283,000 and the number of international students in U.S. colleges and universities in the 2012/2013 academic year grew to reach 819,644, writes Ray Clancy of Expat Forum.
According to the report, 55,000 more international students enrolled in U.S. higher education in 2012/2013, compared to the previous year. The increase is comprised mainly of students from China and Saudi Arabia.
This marks the seventh consecutive year that Open Doors has reported expansion in the total number of international students in U.S. higher education and there are now 40% more international students studying at American colleges and universities than a decade ago with the rate of increase rising steadily for the past three years.
In U.S., international students make up slightly under 4% of total student enrollment at the graduate and undergraduate level combined. According to the data, international students' spending in all 50 states contributed about $24 billion to the U.S. economy.
The number of U.S. students who studied abroad for academic credit increased by 3%, more than the 1% increase from the previous year. More U.S. students went to Latin America and China, and there was a rebound in those going to Japan.
Study abroad by American students has more than tripled over the past two decades, from about 71,000 students in 1991/1992 to the record number in 2011/2012. However, despite these increases, fewer than 10% of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point during their undergraduate years.
"International education promotes the relationship building and knowledge exchange between people and communities in the United States and around the world that are necessary to solve global challenges," said Evan Ryan, assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Institute of International Education President Allan Goodman said international students coming to study in the U.S. benefit from access to some of the finest professors and research laboratories in the world, and Americans benefit substantially from the presence of international students who bring their own unique perspectives and knowledge to the classroom and the wider community.
Commenting on the fact that 90% of American undergraduates still do not study abroad, Goodman said: "we need to increase substantially the number of U.S. students who go abroad so that they too can gain the international experience which is so vital to career success and deepening mutual understanding."
According to Goodman, the strong increase in international student enrollment shows the continued conviction by international students and parents that a U.S. degree is a sound investment in their future careers.
"US higher education offers an unmatched range of nearly 4,000 colleges and universities of all sizes and types, with an extensive variety of course offerings, fields of study, and price points," Goodman added.