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December 6, 2012 Special IIE.Interactive
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More than half of international students hail from Asia, while Europe remains top study abroad destination 

The latest data for international student enrollment and study abroad at U.S. community colleges is now available as part of the 2012 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange.  A special Open Doors Community College Resource is now available online, with data tables on more than five years of international education trends for community colleges, including top host and sending countries and campuses, fields of study and student characteristics.

Findings of the Open Doors report, published annually by the Institute of International Education in partnership with the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, reveal interesting trends for community colleges.

In 2011/12, the number of international students at community colleges increased by 5% over the past five years (since 2006/2007), but the latest figures also show a 2% decline in international students compared to the previous year. From 89,853 in 2010/11, international enrollments fell to 87,997 in 2011/12. International students at associate’s institutions make up 11.5% of total international students studying in the U.S. Latest data also show that more than half of the international students studying at associate’s institutions in the U.S. are from Asian countries.  There are some significant differences in where international students at community colleges come from compared to those in U.S. higher education as a whole. South Korea is about tied with China as the leading sender of students to U.S. community colleges, unlike the national trend for all institutions, where China is by far the leader. India, which is the #2 sender nationally, is at #10 for community colleges. The other countries in the top 10, Vietnam, Japan, Mexico, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Nepal and Venezuela, are all higher on the list for community colleges than they are for total U.S. higher education.

In 2010/11, study abroad figures for students at community colleges showed a decline: dropping from 5,412 students in 2009/10 to 4,566 in the latest data. Europe remained the top destination for students from American community colleges studying abroad, led by Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain. The new data also shows that community college students study abroad in Latin America more so (22%) than study abroad students overall (15%). On the domestic front, California community college students are especially active in study abroad: 15 of the 27 associate’s institutions with more than 50 students studying abroad are located in California. Short-term study abroad is the dominant form at associate’s institutions: 83% of community college study abroad students travel on short-term programs. Short term study programs are more flexible for students and allow them to have an international experience while still attending to work and family commitments at home.

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