Open Doors 2014 Report


Sharon Witherell, IIE, (212) 984-5380,
Elaine Clayton, ECA, (202) 632-6552,

New York University is #1 for both international students and study abroad; Students from India increase after three years of decline; Strong growth from China continues; Study abroad by U.S. students grows, but at a slower rate

November 17, 2014—The 2014 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released today, finds the number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by eight percent to a record high of 886,052 students in the 2013/14 academic year, confirming once again that the United States remains the destination of choice for higher education. The United States hosts more of the world’s 4.5 million globally mobile college and university students than any other country in the world, with almost double the number hosted by the United Kingdom, the second leading host country. The report also found that more American students—a total of 289,408—studied abroad for academic credit from their U.S. colleges and universities, although the two percent increase represents a slightly slower rate of growth than the previous year. The Open Doors® report is published annually by the Institute of International Education in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The new Open Doors data was released on the occasion of the 15th annual celebration of International Education Week, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States. This year’s statistics document how much more global U.S. higher education has become since the launch of the initiative. The overall number of international students in the United States has grown by 72 percent since the first International Education Week briefing was held in 2000. There are five times as many Chinese students on U.S. campuses as were reported in Open Doors 2000; almost two and a half times as many Indian students; seven and a half times as many Vietnamese students; and more than ten times as many Saudi students. The number of U.S. students studying abroad has more than doubled in the last 15 years.

“International education is crucial to building relationships between people and communities in the United States and around the world. It is through these relationships that together we can solve global challenges like climate change, the spread of pandemic disease, and combatting violent extremism,” said Evan M. Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. “We also need to expand access to international education for students from more diverse backgrounds, in more diverse locations of study, getting more diverse types of degrees. Only by engaging multiple perspectives within our societies can we all reap the numerous benefits of international education – increased global competence, self-awareness and resiliency, and the ability to compete in the 21st century economy,” Assistant Secretary Ryan remarked.

“International experience is one of the most important components of a 21st century education, and study abroad should be viewed as an essential element of a college degree,” said IIE’s President Dr. Allan E. Goodman. “Learning how to study and work with people from other countries and cultures also prepares future leaders to contribute to making the world a less dangerous place.”

In 2013/14, there were 66,408 more international students enrolled in U.S. higher education compared to the previous year. While students from China and Saudi Arabia together account for 73 percent of the growth, a wider range of countries contributed to the increase, with India, Brazil, Iran and Kuwait together accounting for an additional 18 percent of growth. The number of Indian students increased by 6 percent to 102,673, reversing a three-year trend of declining numbers of Indian students at U.S. campuses. The fastest growing student populations in the United States in 2013/14 were from Kuwait, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia, all countries whose governments are investing heavily in scholarships for international studies, to develop a globally competent workforce. The fastest growing region this year was the Middle East and North Africa, with an increase of 20 percent in students enrolled in U.S. higher education. There were eight percent more students from Latin America and the Caribbean, which has benefited from support from 100,000 Strong in the Americas, a public-private partnership led by the U.S. State Department. Students from Asia increased by 8 percent as well, driven by a 17 percent increase from China.

International students make up just over four percent of the total U.S. graduate and undergraduate enrollments combined. International students’ spending in all 50 states contributed more than $27 billion to the U.S. economy in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Additional breakdowns of the economic impact of international students by host state, using Open Doors data and calculations of the local tuition and cost of living rates, are available from NAFSA.

Forty-one states experienced growth in the number of international students, with 18 states growing at a faster rate than the national increase of 8 percent. New York University became the leading host university for international students this year, after twelve years during which University of Southern California was the leader. For the first time ever, four institutions broke the 10,000 mark: New York University, University of Southern California, University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, and Columbia University, which each hosted more than 10,000 international students.

The Open Doors report also surveys U.S. colleges and universities regarding the number of their students who study abroad. The number of U.S. students who studied abroad for credit received back home  increased by two percent to 289,408 students in 2012/13. The UK had the largest increase in the number of U.S. study abroad students. In addition, there was double digit growth in the number of American students studying in South Africa, Denmark, South Korea, Peru, and Thailand, as well as strong growth to Costa Rica and Ireland and a continued rebound in those going to Japan as programs recovered after the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011. Despite these increases, fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point during their undergraduate years. American students majoring in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields showed the largest increase in study abroad, up 9 percent from the prior year, outnumbering study abroad students in the Social Sciences, the second largest field.

Earlier this year, IIE launched Generation Study Abroad, a national campaign to double the number of students who study abroad by the end of the decade. Today, IIE announced that a total of 450 partners have joined the campaign to date. They include: 298 U.S. colleges and universities from 48 states; 67 higher education institutions and organizations in other countries; 16 education associations; 56 organizations including study abroad, K-12, and social network agencies; and 13 U.S. and foreign government entities, including the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. In addition to significantly expanding study abroad numbers, the campaign will also encourage and track campus activities that expand diversity in race and ethnicity, academic disciplines, destinations, and gender of those who study abroad.

Open Doors is published by the Institute of International Education, an independent not-for-profit organization with a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,200 member institutions. IIE has conducted an annual statistical survey of the international students in the United States since its founding in 1919 and in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs since 1972. Open Doors also reports on the number of international scholars at U.S. universities; international students enrolled in pre-academic Intensive English Programs; and on U.S. students studying abroad. Further details on the Open Doors 2014 surveys and their findings is on the Open Doors website, and the full 100+ page report can be ordered for $69.95 from IIE Books.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State leads a wide range of academic, professional, and cultural exchanges that include approximately 40,000 participants annually, including the flagship Fulbright Program and the International Visitor Leadership Program, with the goal of increasing mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. ECA also sponsors the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarships for U.S. undergraduates with financial need, administered by IIE, and the Critical Language Scholarship Program in support of U.S. study abroad and the EducationUSA network of over 400 advising centers worldwide, which provides information to students around the globe who wish to study in the United States. For more information on the Department of State’s educational and cultural exchange activities, visit

Open Doors 2014: Data Highlights – Executive Summary

International Students in the US

Overview: The number of international students enrolled in U.S. higher education increased by eight percent to 886,052 students in 2013/14, with 66,408 more students than last year enrolled in colleges and universities across the United States. This marks the eighth consecutive year that Open Doors reported expansion in the total number of international students in U.S. higher education. There are now 72 percent more international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities than were reported in Open Doors 2000, and the rate of increase has risen steadily for the past four years. Despite the increases in recent years, international students still constitute approximately four percent of the more than 21 million students enrolled in U.S. higher education.

Places of Origin: The growth is once again largely driven by students from China, particularly at the undergraduate level. Chinese student enrollments increased by 17 percent in total to more than 274,000 students, and increased by 18 percent at the undergraduate level. This is a slightly lower rate of growth than the previous year. Students from China now make up 31 percent of all international students in the United States. Students from India increased by 6 percent to 102,673, following three years of decline. The increase was driven by enrollment at the graduate level.

There were also large increases in students from several countries where the national governments have been investing in scholarship programs to send their students to the United States to study. This year, there was a 22 percent increase in students from Brazil, to a total of more than 13,000. Brazil moved up to number 10, reflecting the effects of the second full year of undergraduate students coming to the United States with scholarships from the Brazilian Government’s Brazil Scientific Mobility Program. There was a 21 percent increase in the number of students from Saudi Arabia. There were nearly 54,000 Saudi students in the United States, largely funded by the Saudi government scholarship program, now approaching its 11th year. On a smaller scale, the continued expansion of the Kuwaiti government scholarship programs led to 43 percent more students coming from Kuwait. With its more than 7,300 students, Kuwait is now the 21st leading place of origin, after joining the top 25 list the previous year.

Students from the top three places of origin—China, India, and South Korea—now represent approximately 50 percent of the total enrollment of international students in the United States, with the number from China and India increasing, and the numbers from South Korea declining. This year, Saudi students represent six percent of the total. After these top four countries, no country represents more than 5 percent of the total international students in the United States.

Each of the top 25 places of origin had 5,000 or more students in the United States. There were increases in the number of students from 17 of the top 25 places of origin, including Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

The number of students from France, Malaysia, and Thailand remained relatively flat. Japan, which had seen steep declines in prior years, levelled off to a decrease of only about one percent, due in part to concerted efforts of the Japanese and U.S. governments.

There were declines in the number of students from the third leading sender, South Korea (down 4 percent), as well as from Taiwan (down 3 percent), Turkey (down 4 percent), and Nepal (down 9 percent). The factors driving these declines likely include a mix of global and local economic factors, and in some cases expanded higher education opportunities at home.

Economic and Social Impact: The continued growth in international students coming to the U.S. for higher education has a significant positive economic impact on the United States. International students contribute more than $27 billion to the U.S. economy, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Open Doors 2014 reports that about 74 percent of all international students receive the majority of their funds from sources outside of the United States, including personal and family sources as well as assistance from their home country governments or universities. Students from around the world who study in the United States also contribute to America’s scientific and technical research and bring international perspectives into U.S. classrooms, helping prepare American undergraduates for global careers, and often lead to longer-term business relationships and economic benefits. Additional breakdowns of economic impact by state and Congressional District, calculated using Open Doors enrollment figures, are available on the NAFSA International Student Economic Value Tool website.

Host States: The increased international presence has been felt across the United States, with all of the top 25 host universities and all the top ten states hosting more international students than in the prior year. California hosted more than 100,000 international students for the third year in a row, followed by New York, Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois. Six of the top ten destinations saw double digit growth: Ohio, with a 14 percent increase, New York, with a 12 percent increase, Pennsylvania and Florida with increases of about 11 percent, and Massachusetts and Michigan had about a 10 percent increase.

Host Campuses: New York University is now the host of the largest number of international students, moving up from the number four spot. The University of Southern California is now the second leading host, after twelve years as number one. These two universities were followed by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Columbia University (moving up to #4), and Purdue University. All of the top 25 host universities increased their number of international students; combined, they hosted 22 percent of all international students in the United States. In 1999/2000, there were 135 institutions that hosted 1,000 or more international students, while the new Open Doors reported 231 institutions hosting 1,000 or more international students in 2013/14.

Metropolitan Areas: New York City is once again the top metropolitan area for international students, with a 13 percent increase. All of the top 25 metropolitan areas with the exception of Houston had increases this year, with particularly strong increases in Pittsburgh (27 percent) and Phoenix (25 percent).

U.S. Students Studying Abroad

Overview: In the 2012/13 academic year, 289,408 American students studied abroad for academic credit, an increase of two percent. Study abroad by American students has more than doubled in the past 15 years, from about 130,000 students in 1998/99. Open Doors reported that 35 campuses had undergraduate study abroad participation rates of more than 70 percent of their student body.

Participation: Although the total number is at an all-time high, it is still the case that fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. undergraduate students (including community college students) will study abroad by the time they graduate. The fact that 90 percent of American undergraduate students enrolled in U.S. higher education are graduating without an international experience means that there is still a long way to go. IIE launched Generation Study Abroad this year with the goal of doubling the number of students who study abroad by the end of the decade, and diversifying the population of students who are able to have a study abroad experience. To date, nearly 300 U.S. campuses have joined the campaign, making concrete commitments to action.

Destinations: Open Doors 2014 reports that U.S. students studied in increasing numbers in 15 of the top 25 destination countries for study abroad in the most recent year. The United Kingdom remains the leading destination for American students, followed by Italy, Spain, France and China – which remained the fifth largest host destination despite a three percent decrease. The number of students going to Japan to study increased by nine percent, as programs continued to recover following the tsunami of March 2011. There were significant increases in the number of Americans studying in several destinations outside Europe, primarily Costa Rica, South Africa, South Korea, Peru, and Thailand. There were declines in the number of American students going to China, Australia, Argentina, India, Mexico, Ecuador, Israel, Chile, and New Zealand.

Fields of Study: American students majoring in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) fields showed the largest increase in study abroad, up 9 percent from the prior year, outnumbering study abroad students in the Social Sciences, the second largest field. Study abroad increased among students majoring in all STEM fields, with the largest growth occurring in the Health Sciences, which increased by fifteen percent.

New this year: Taking a closer look at where the U.S. students who study abroad are coming from, Open Doors 2014 includes new breakdowns looking at the number of study abroad students by sector (public, private not-for-profit or for-profit), and ranks the top colleges for study abroad among community colleges and special focus institutions for the first time. Recognizing the growing importance of education abroad experiences that involve work, internships, and volunteering abroad (WIVA), Open Doors also looks more closely at this topic, and includes data on this experiential learning both for credit and not for credit, from over 300 colleges able to track and report this kind of information.


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