Open Doors report on intern'l students in US & US students studying abroad

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 in the 2017 Open Doors® Report on International Educational Exchange on November 13.

IIE and ECA will hold a briefing and discussion of the new findings at the National Press Club in Washington DC at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time. We invite you to Join the Open Doors briefing on Facebook Live, November 13th, 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. EST, at @IIEGlobal on Facebook, through this link:

You can now access the new data on the Open Doors website. Resources include new interactive data graphics, infographics for social media, fact sheets for states and countries, and downloadable data tables showing leading host institutions, places of origin, U.S. destinations, fields of study, academic level, and other key breakdowns. Visit @IIEGlobal on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to share the news with your followers. Be sure to use #OpenDoorsReport and #IEW2017 to join the conversation.


International Students
In 2016/17, for the second consecutive year, U.S. colleges and universities hosted more than one million international students, increasing by three percent to a record high of 1.08 million. This marks the eleventh consecutive year of continued expansion of the total number of international students in U.S. higher education. While the overall number of international students studying in the United States has increased, the number of new international students – those enrolled at a U.S. institution for the first time in fall 2016, declined by nearly 10,000 students to about 291,000, a three percent decrease from the previous year. This is the first time that these numbers have declined in the twelve years since Open Doors has reported new enrollments.

The factors driving the slowing of growth include a mix of global and local economic conditions, and in some cases expanded higher education opportunities at home and declining populations. The scaling back of large Saudi and Brazil government scholarship programs were a significant factor, as the number of students from those two countries showed the biggest decreases at all levels, including non-degree study. Much of the increase reported for the past couple of years can be attributed to more students pursuing Optional Practical Training (OPT) related to their academic fields after their degree studies, and thus remaining longer in the U.S. higher education system. These flattening trends have a nearly two year history, as students reflected in the current Open Doors report were already on campus in September 2016 for the fall term, and most had applied in 2015 and made their decisions in spring 2016. IIE conducted a separate online fall enrollment survey with nine other education associations in October 2017 to provide an early look at what campuses are seeing now for the current academic year. The approximately 500 colleges and universities responding reported continued flattening in the overall number of enrolled students and an average decrease of 7 percent in the number of new enrolled students.

In 2016, international students brought $39 billion to the United States economy, through their spending on tuition, room and board and living expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Their roles on campus as teaching and research assistants support the faculty in many departments, especially in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), and their diverse perspectives help enrich classroom learning for U.S. students.

Americans Studying Abroad
The report shows that 325,339 American students received academic credit last year at the home campus for study abroad in 2015/2016, an increase of four percent from the previous year. Study abroad by American students has more than tripled in the past two decades; however, the rate of growth had slowed following the financial crisis in 2008. The population of U.S. students studying abroad continues to diversify, with greater inclusion of underrepresented students. U.S. higher education is increasingly focused on preparing U.S. students to secure jobs after graduation in order to advance their careers, as well as preparing them to thrive in the multicultural global marketplace. Studies have shown that studying abroad helps students develop the skills needed to succeed in today’s interconnected world.
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