According to a study released on Monday by the Institute of International Education, Chinese college students now make up nearly one in three of the foreign students population in American universities — vaulting them to the top of the list of foreign students for the first time.
Total international student population in the grew 7 percent to 819,644 in the 2012-13 academic year, according to the study. That's still less than 5 percent of the total college student population in the United States.
“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,” Evan M. Ryan, the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, said in a written statement.
California remains a top destination for foreign students, with many choosing USC, UCLA and Stanford universities. USC’s 9,840 international students last year made it the university with the highest foreign student enrollment in the nation.
Foreign students also bring in cash. The U.S. Department of Commerce puts their contribution at $24 billion. The vast majority of international college students cover their educational costs through sources outside the U.S., including family financial help and scholarships from their home countries.
That’s one of the reasons foreign student enrollment from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait has shot up more than 30 percent. Each of those countries offers generous scholarships for study abroad.
As for U.S. students going abroad, it pales in comparison to international students coming to America.
In the 2011-'12 academic year, 283,332 U.S. students studied abroad. The number was up by 3 percent.