The number of international students attending U.S. colleges and universities reached an all-time high in 2008, according to the Institute of International Education, a non-governmental organization promoting international study and academic exchange.
In its "Open Doors 2008" report, published with support from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Institute of International Education noted that total foreign student enrollment was up 7 percent to a record 623,805 in the 2007/08 academic year. New enrollments were up 10 percent.
India remains the leading place of origin for international students in the United States, increasing its number of students to 94,563, a 13 percent rise from the previous year. China was second, with a 20 percent increase for a total of 81,127 students. South Korea increased its number of students studying in the United States by 11 percent to 69,124.
Saudi Arabian student enrollments jumped 25 percent to 9,873. Vietnam raised its enrollment 45 percent to 8,769 students. Students from Indonesia rose by 5 percent to 7,692. Nigeria's enrollment was also up 5 percent to 6,222 students. Significant increases also came from Oman, Iraq, and Qatar.
To accommodate the rising demand for student visas, the U.S. Department of State issued a record 710,631 F, J, and M student and exchange visitor visas, a 9.1 percent increase in these visas over the previous fiscal year, and a more than 26 percent increase over fiscal year 2001.
The State Department issued nearly 40 percent more student and exchange visitor visas to Chinese nationals than in fiscal year 2007, following an increase of 40 percent in fiscal year 2006. The State Department also issued 26.2 percent more student and exchange visitor visas to students from the Middle East in fiscal year 2008 than in fiscal year 2007.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Goli Ameri said Open Doors data "demonstrates again that the U.S. remains the premier destination for international students."
The United States Government joins the U.S. higher education community in a commitment to welcome international students to the United States.