Countries With the Most Students Studying in the United States
The map highlights the percentage change in students
from 2009-10 to 2010-11 for the top 25 countries.
Top countries of origin of foreign students in the United States, 2010-11
3. South Korea
6. Saudi Arabia
16. Hong Kong
SOURCE: INSTI TUTE OF INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION
students go on to seek degrees in the
“There’s no question that the Chinese flow of students will keep coming,” says Mr. Harris. “Some universities we work with have already
reached the saturation point.”
Making an Effort
While much about the flow of in-
ternational students remains beyond
a college’s control—currency fluc-
tuations, national visa policies, and
the job market, to name a few fac-
tors—many colleges have been try-
ing harder to drive enrollments up.
AMANDA SMI TH FOr THE CHrONICLE
Saudi students like Bedoor Albrahilm (left) make up the largest group
of foreign students at Portland State U.
international education for a long
time, I hate to say it, but it’s pretty
much revenue-driven,” says Law-
rence H. Bell, director of interna-
tional education at the University of
Colorado at Boulder, about this push
by many public colleges. “The do-
mestic market is just not as large as
the international market.”
The State of Colorado exempted
colleges last year from counting for-
eign students toward their out-of-
state enrollment caps. That freed up
institutions like Boulder to begin re-
cruiting overseas. This year the uni-
versity’s international undergraduate
enrollments grew by 113 students, to
626, with much of that growth com-
ing from China.
Bringing American undergraduates in contact with a more international student body has also been
important to state universities where
campus diversity has been hard to
come by otherwise.
At the University of Iowa, a declining state population and a minimal international undergraduate presence—just 400 in 2007—
prompted deep discussions among
the staff, says Mr. King. Today the
campus has 1,734 international undergraduates, of whom 72 percent
are from China.
Mr. King says they’re happy with
these increases. In a state that leads
the country, after California, in agricultural exports, and where international companies like John Deere
are major employers, Iowa’s undergraduates are getting exposure to the
rest of the world.
Yet the university is also pursuing
new markets. Mr. King, for example,
recently returned from a three-week
trip to the Middle East.
The University of Cincinnati,
with 43,000 students, has undergone a similar transformation. Four
years ago it created an international admissions office, which now has
seven full-time employees plus two
representatives in China and one in
India. While graduate enrollments
have remained flat, in part because
of cutbacks in some programs, undergraduate numbers exceeded 600
this year, filling seats and providing an international perspective
to Ohio students, says Jonathan
Weller, associate director of admissions. Meanwhile, recruiters have
their eye on Nepal, Sri Lanka, and
Vietnam as they continue to expand
At Portland State University, Saudi Arabia is the top country sending
students, building on the institution’s
longstanding ties to the Middle East,
says Gil Latz, vice provost for international affairs. The university is
now making inroads into India, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam.
In Vietnam, Portland State cre-
ated a partnership with Intel, which
has both a campus outside Portland
and a plant in Ho Chi Minh City.
Through the program, engineering
students from six technical universi-
ties begin their studies at their home
institutions in Vietnam and complete
them in Portland. “That has given us
a huge identity in Vietnam and has
attracted other students from the
country,” says Mr. Latz.
Some colleges, particularly
private institutions, have taken a
slower approach to international
recruitment. Vanderbilt University, for example, has emphasized
diversity over raw numbers, says
Douglas L. Christiansen, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions. Vanderbilt perhaps can
afford more than other institutions
to invest in this strategy, and Mr.
Christiansen admits it’s neither
cheap nor easy. “We have to be experts in many parts of the world,”
vetting applications, evaluating
high schools, and understanding
It also means turning away plenty of qualified applicants. This year
Vanderbilt received 735 undergraduate applications from Chinese students and enrolled only 22.
Mr. Christiansen has long worried
about the rush by many colleges to
recruit in places like China, where
colleges can often get the best bang
for their recruiting buck.
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