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Open Doors 2016 Report on International Educational Exchange Released Today
Today, the Institute of International Education (IIE), together with the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, released the latest news on international students in the United States and U.S. students studying abroad. The Open Doors® findings will also be a topic of a briefing this morning, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, with Assistant Secretary of State Evan M. Ryan and IIE President Allan E. Goodman, in conjunction with the worldwide observance of International Education Week.

We expect to see press coverage in major news outlets in the United States and around the world beginning today and throughout the week.

To access the new data and background information to help explain the trends, go to www.iie.org/opendoors.

We encourage you to share this information with the press office on your campus and to work with them to publicize your institution's success in hosting international students and sending your students to study abroad. You can localize the story by providing details about the students coming to and going from your campus, such as where they come from, where they go, what they study, and what effect this has on your campus and community.

The print publication will be available in March 2017. At that time a free complimentary print copy of Open Doors 2016 will be sent to the survey respondent on each campus who provided data on international student flows, and to the international student designee of IIENetwork member campuses, as a benefit of your IIENetwork membership. If you are unsure of your IIENetwork membership status, please contact membership@iie.org.


  • The number of international students enrolled in U.S. higher education increased by 7.1% to 1,043,839 students in 2015/16, with 69,000 more students than the prior year at colleges and universities across the United States. This marks the tenth consecutive year that Open Doors reported expansion in the total number of international students in U.S. higher education, again confirming that the United States remains the destination of choice for higher education. There are now 85% more international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities than were reported a decade ago; they represent just over five percent of the more than 20 million students enrolled in U.S. higher education, up from around four percent in previous years.
  • Top 5 countries of origin: China, India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Canada.
  • For the second year in a row, the largest growth was in the number of students from India, primarily at the graduate level and in optional practical training (OPT). China remains the top sending country, with almost twice the number of students in the U.S. as India, but India’s rate of growth and absolute increases outpaced China’s.
  • Students from the top three countries of origin – China, India, and Saudi Arabia – now represent approximately 53% of the total enrollment of international students in the United States. The numbers from South Korea declined by 4.2%, causing it to fall from the third leading place of origin to fourth place. After these top four countries, no country represents more than three percent of the total international students in the United States. Despite a one percent decline, Canada remains the fifth leading place of origin.
  • The fastest growing countries this past year were India (+24.9%), Nepal (+18.4%), and Vietnam (+14.3%).
  • The globalization of campuses across the United States continues, with nearly all of the top 25 host universities and all of the top ten states hosting more international students than in the prior year. In 1999/2000, there were 135 institutions that hosted 1,000 or more international students, while the new Open Doors reported 255 institutions hosting 1,000 or more international students in 2015/16.
  • California hosted almost 150,000 international students, followed by New York, Texas, Massachusetts, and Illinois. Two of the top ten destinations saw double digit growth: California with a 10.5% increase, and Florida with a 10.4% increase. All but fourteen states and U.S. territories saw increases in international enrollments in 2015/16.
  • New York University is the host of the largest number of international students for the third year in a row, followed by the University of Southern California which had been the leading host for 12 years until 2013/14. These two universities were followed by Arizona State University, Columbia University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Combined, the top 25 campuses hosted 22% of all international students in the United States.
  • More than 313,000 U.S. students received credit last year for study abroad during 2014/15, an increase of nearly three percent over the previous year. Approximately a quarter of these students majored in STEM fields.
  • Strong growth in many European countries contributed to a 5.3% increase for the region in 2014/15. Europe hosted 170,879 U.S. students, accounting for 54.5% of all U.S. study abroad.
  • The new Open Doors data also show that an increasing number of U.S. students—over 22,000 in 2014/15—participated in non-credit work, internships, and volunteering abroad through which they can gain practical skills. Latin America and the Caribbean is the most popular destination region, accounting for 36.9% of non-credit education abroad.
  • Only about 10% of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point during their undergraduate years. In 2014, IIE launched a national campaign, Generation Study Abroad®, to double the number of students who study abroad by the end of the decade. Launched in March 2014 with 156 partners, Generation Study Abroad has grown to include more than 740 partners that have raised more than $55 million for student scholarships to study abroad. The network includes 408 U.S. colleges and universities from 48 states; 189 international universities and organizations from 50 countries; 23 education associations; more than 100 organizations including study abroad, K-12, and social network agencies; 18 country partners; and the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
  • Students majoring in the STEM fields are increasingly studying abroad (+9.1% in 2014/15) with the biggest growth among students in engineering (+1,630 students; +11.7%). STEM fields now represent 23.9% of study abroad students. The number of students studying business increased by 5.6% and students in social sciences and humanities decreased by 4.9% and 4.7%, respectively.
Read full announcements and access data from the new Open Doors report at www.iie.org/opendoors.

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