1,000 Students

Making the case for increasing international student enrollment in United States higher education

It’s no secret that the United States has a dwindling lead over other countries among globally mobile students in higher education. Another sobering fact: fewer Americans are opting for college at all. And yet, there are U.S. colleges and universities countering the narrative. 

Last week, George Mason University announced the highest enrollment numbers, including international students, in Virigina’s 235-year history. When asked how the University of Alaska grew enrollment by 5% last year, system president Pat Pitney credited the state’s $47 million increase in funding. And data show positive signs as well; in June, new data from the Open Doors Report showed a 63% jump in international students enrolled in intensive English programs in the U.S.  

This is all encouraging news. It confirms that there are indeed thousands of ambitious people who see the value of pursuing higher education. But what will it take to defend the U.S.’s market share by the end of the decade? IIE’s data suggest that we need about 400 U.S. institutions to host at least 1,000 international students. Today, just 200 host 1,000 or more.  

We’ll learn a lot more in November with the release of the 2023 Open Doors Report. In the meantime, we should zero in on the institutions rejecting the fated “enrollment cliff” to learn what’s working for them. 

Allan Goodman, CEO of Institute of International Education
Allan Goodman, CEO