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College Students Increasingly Opt for International Experience

It's increasingly a small world, after all, with news today of more students than ever studying outside their home countries in college.

The Institute of International Education, a nonprofit organization in Washington, found a 4 percent increase in American students studying abroad in 2009-2010 over the previous year and 5 percent more international students coming to the U.S. in 2010-11 than the year before.

The growth in U.S. students studying outside the country comes after a 1 percent dip in 2008-09. About 14 percent of U.S. undergraduates pursuing a bachelor's degree (230,752) participated in some kind of study-abroad program in the latest report. A total of 270,604 students in the higher education system overall studied abroad.

American students' top destinations were the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France, and China. India and Israel represented the biggest spikes in interest, although both countries host just over 1 percent of American students who go to college abroad. Students most likely to study abroad are social science, business/management, and humanities majors.

A record number of students from foreign countries (723,277) enrolled on U.S. campuses in 2010-11, marking the fifth consecutive year of growth, according to the IIE report. International students comprised 3.5 percent of total university enrollment last year.

Chinese students are the largest group, making up 22 percent of international students in American colleges and they grew another 23 percent in the past year. The next highest percent enrolled were from India, South Korea, Canada, and Taiwan. Students from Saudi Arabia increased the most (44 percent) and came in sixth on the list.

States that are most likely to host international students, according to the report, are California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts, and Illinois.

There is an intentional effort behind the increasingly diverse landscape on U.S. campuses. The report found institutions attributed the rise to active recruitment of international students (35 percent), a growing reputation and visibility of American campuses abroad (33 percent), and more linkages between U.S. and foreign colleges in other countries (16 percent).

The IIE has conducted an annual census of international students since 1919. The information released today includes results of an online survey in October and the "Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange", supported by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

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