Press Release

New Report from IIE Looks at International Students at U.S. High Schools

Students enrolling directly for diplomas outnumber exchange students

Download full report

NEW YORK, July 8, 2014—A new report published today by the Institute of International Education, “Charting new pathways to higher education: International secondary students in the United States,” provides comprehensive analysis on the more than 73,000 inbound international students who come to the United States for high school, and what the trends mean for higher education enrollments and recruitment.

The findings on high school student mobility complement the data that IIE releases each year on international college and university students in the United States in the annual Open Doors report; both reports are produced with the support of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The new IIE report looks closely at where the students come from and where they study—with breakdowns by U.S. state and types of schools. It provides narrative analysis and data tables that compare specific numbers and trends for international students at the secondary level with those for international students in higher education in the United States.

“While secondary school students from around the world have been coming to the United States on high school exchange programs for many years, IIE’s new analysis shows that the number of students who enroll directly in U.S. schools to earn a U.S. high school diploma now significantly outnumbers those who are here on exchanges,” said IIE’s Deputy Vice President for Research and Evaluation, Rajika Bhandari. “This is a remarkable finding, and one which has implications for U.S. higher education.”

Highlights from the report include:

  • In October 2013 there were 73,019 international students pursuing a secondary-level education in the United States, with 48,632 or 67 percent of these enrolled for a full diploma.
  • The number of international students enrolled directly in U.S. secondary programs more than tripled from fall 2004 to fall 2013, while the number of exchange students grew only about 15 percent during the same period.
  • Most of the nearly 49,000 diploma-seeking students at U.S. high schools are from Asia (with 46% of this segment coming from China).
  • The majority (66%) of the roughly 24,000 high school students who come to the U.S. on cultural exchange programs are from Europe.
  • Compared to Australia, Canada, and the UK, the U.S. hosts a much larger number of secondary students, which is also the case at the postsecondary level.

Previously available information from other sources has primarily focused on high school exchange students who come to the United States through short term, exchange programs administered by exchange organizations and has not looked closely at students who enroll directly in U.S. high schools for high school diplomas. IIE’s new report helps fill this critical gap.

The high school mobility report can be downloaded at no cost from IIE’s publications site.


About the Institute of International Education

The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,200 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations.

IIE’s Center for Academic Mobility Research brings together the Institute’s in-house research expertise with leading minds from around the world to conduct and disseminate timely and relevant research and policy analysis in the field of international student and faculty mobility. The Center provides applied research and program evaluation services to domestic and international governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, corporations and foundations. The Center’s in-depth books and reports, including the well-known Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, supported by the U.S. Department of State, are key reference resources. In addition, our policy papers and snapshot surveys rapidly capture trends in the changing landscape of international education.

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