The US may draw the lion’s share of the world’s 1.9 million international students, but for the past several years the numbers have dropped off slightly as competition in Europe and Asia grows.
Students from India, China, South Korea and Japan make up about 40 percent of foreign students in the US.
Beginning in 1954, international students had started flocking to the US in large numbers, increasing every year from 34,000 to a whopping 586,000 by the 2002-03 school year.
But the trend went down for the first time ever, over the last two years, with a 3.5 percent drop to 565,000 students.
China accounts for about 10 percent of the world’s 1.9 million international students, Unesco says, and India for four percent. However, even China has suddenly become a major host country with over 100,000 foreign students.
On the surface, a glitch with visas after the 2001 terror attacks was blamed for the falling number of students.
But the real reason had started by the mid-90s, with the growth of globalisation and the rise of rival English-language schools around the world.
Oddly, American educators do not seem alarmed – in fact, they greet the increased competition as a tribute to their own private-public system of 4,000 colleges and universities, the largest and most diverse system in the world.
“Other countries have been fast figuring out the key to the success of the American system, which is driven by hard budget figures and funded by student fees, corporations, alumni and generous donors – and not the heavy hand of the government,” said Peggy Blumenthal, executive vice president at the International Institute of Education (IIE), an 87-year-old organisation that administers 200 international study programmes….
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