More Foreign Students Coming to U.S., Few Americans Studying Abroad

Xinhua/Li Ke/AFP
Xinhua/Li Ke/AFP

In contrast to the growing number of foreigners coming to the United States to attend college, a review of federal data finds that Americans are studying abroad at a lower rate.

According to ABC News, the number of foreign students increased by 10 percent in 2014, the single largest gain in 35 years. Yet, the number of Americans attending foreign universities rose by a scant five percent.

The data show that about one third of the one million foreign students coming to America are from China. But the surge in growth is mostly from a large number of new students from burgeoning India, ABC noted.

The number of students from India grew 30 percent to more than 130,000 students, the report says.

“That increase has been primarily at the graduate level, and we know that Indian students have always been very attracted to the availability of excellent science and research facilities on U.S. campuses,” Rajika Bhandari, the deputy vice president for research and evaluation of the nonprofit Institute of International Education and the U.S. Department of State, told ABC.

Another country that saw a spike in students coming to America was Brazil at some 23,000 students.

On the other hand, only about 300,000 Americans have decided to study abroad, the report finds.

But the Obama administration thinks this number isn’t strong enough and is funding a brand new office in the Department of State aimed at pushing more Americans to attend foreign colleges and universities.

“We are going to be working very actively on outreach to explain the benefits of study abroad and encourage more Americans to participate,” Marianne Craven, the acting deputy assistant secretary of state for academic programs told the media.

Unsurprisingly, the program is especially aimed at low-income students and minorities.

Still, not everyone in the U.S. welcomes the growing number of foreign students coming to America.

According to the Wall Street Journal, parents in California are upset that foreign students are getting accepted to the state’s universities seemingly at the expense of native Californians.

With this growing number of foreign students and with California receiving the largest number of those applicants, some are worried that homegrown students are being shut out.

“We’re shutting out California kids,” Carol Bastian, a college counselor at Mountain View High School in Silicon Valley, told WSJ on November 16. “Undoubtedly, this is because we have a very rich new clientele, particularly Chinese.”

According to the federal data, California was the destination for the largest number of foreign students, with some 135,000 enrolled. New York and Texas came second and third, with nearly 107,000 and 76,000 respectively.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston, or email the author at


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