The number of international students attending U.S. colleges and universities rose by 5 percent to a record high of 723,277 during the 2010/11 academic year, led by a sharp increase in the number of Chinese students, a report released on Monday showed.
This is the fifth consecutive year that witnessed growth in the total number of international students in the U.S., which is now 32 percent more than it was a decade ago, according to the annual Open Doors report published by the Institute of International Education, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Increased numbers of students from China, especially at the undergraduate level, largely account for the growth this past year, the report said, adding that Chinese students increased by 22 percent to nearly 158,000 in total and by 43 percent at the undergraduate level.
This made China, whose students account for 22 percent of the total international students in the U.S., the leading sending country of international students for the second year in a row. China is followed by India, which currently has 104,000 students in the U.S. that account for 14 percent of the total, and South Korea, which has 73,000 students in the U.S. that make up 10 percent of the total.
The increases in international students have been felt across the U.S., with the top 20 host U.S. universities and top 10 host states each hosting more international students than in the previous year, according to the report.
The strong increases in international students have significant economic impact on the U.S., especially during a time when its economy is facing severe challenges caused by the 2008 financial crisis and a fragile recovery.
International students contribute more than 21 billion U.S. dollars to the U.S. economy, through their expenditures on tuition and living expenses, the report quoted figures by the U.S. Department of Commerce as saying.
"Higher education is among the United States' top service sector exports, as international students provide significant revenue not just to the host campus but also to local economies of the host states for living expenses, including room and board, books and supplies, transportation, health, insurance, and support for accompanying family members," the report said.
The report also found that California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois remained as the top five hosts for international students, who bring revenue ranging from several million dollars to nearly 3 billion dollars to their host states.