Did you know that there were over six hundred and twenty thousand international students in the United States of America’s universities and colleges for the academic year 2007/08? This according to the Open Doors report by the Institute of International Education was a seven percent increase. According to the Mr. Goli Ameri, the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, the increase in enrolment was an indication that USA is still the premier destination for foreign students.
“U.S. higher education is unparalleled in its vitality, quality, and diversity. The U.S. government joins the U.S. higher education community in a commitment to welcome international students to the United States” (Gardner and Witherell, par. 1)
He stated that he had graduated in the United States as an international student and thus was in a better position to testify that “America’s universities not only accept and welcome international students warmly, but transform their lives (Gardner and Witherell par. 1). The United States department of state has expanded support to advice on US education by setting up centers around the world in order to help students gain access to American education.
The number of the international students in the United States is double that of the United Kingdom (the second host). It was reported in the year 2007 that the international students in USA contributed about thirteen billion US dollars to the its economy through their living expenses and tuition charges (Ford p. 1) This research paper seeks to show the reasons why the United States of America is the most preferred destination for the international students.
Statistics of the international students in USA
According to the Open Doors 2008 report, India is the leading country that sends students to the United States with the figure increasing to ninety four thousand, five hundred and sixty three. The second sender was listed as China with eighty one thousand, one hundred and twenty one students in US. Those from South Korea took the third spot with sixty nine thousand, one hundred and twenty four students (which was an eleven percent increase).
Though it showed a four percent slight drop, Japan was fought with thirty three thousand, nine hundred and seventy four students in US. Canada took the fifth spot with twenty nine thousand and fifty one students. Other countries with students in the United States are as follows: Taiwan 29,001 and Mexico, 14,837 (this was a seven percent increase).
Saudi Arabian students in the United Stated increased to nine thousand eight hundred and seventy three, this being attributed to the scholarships that are being offered by their government in a program that was launched in 2005. The greatest increase (45%) was by students from Vietnamese students with eight thousand seven hundred and sixty nine students. Other international students in the United States universities and colleges came from Indonesia, 7692; Nigeria, 6,222 and Kenya with 5,838 students (which was an eight percent drop) (Gardner and Witherell par. 1-10).
From the statistics above, it is clear that Asia accounted for the sixty one percent of all international students. Philippines recorded a twelve percent increase; Singapore, seven percent; Mongolia, thirteen percent; Hong Kong, seven percent. However the following Asian nations recorded a decline in the number of students they sent to US: Pakistan, one percent and Bangladesh, four percent. Others with the same trends include Israel, Palestinian Authority, Yemen and Lebanon (Gardner and Witherell par. 1-10).
According to the same report, US Universities that had the highest number of international students, University of Southern California lead the pack with seven thousand one hundred and eighty nine of students. Other leading Universities included : New York University, 6404; Columbia University, 6297; University of Illinois, 5933; Purdue University (main campus), 5772; University of Michigan, 5748; University of Texas, 5550; Harvard University, 4948 and Boston University with 4789 international students in US (Gardner and Witherell).
Reasons why USA is a preferred destination for International Students
One may be keen to ask the question of why the nation has led other nations of the world such as Britain, Germany and France in enrolling international students. The United States has been reported to have a great wealth of initiatives and policies meant to lure international students into its educational system such as policies that include specific visa and work requirements.
This is despite the drop in enrolment that was caused by the September 11 terrorist bombings of the United States. This is in contrast to the small number of students that the nation sends to the other nations. According to the statistics, only about forty five thousand American students study abroad, majority of them being in the United Kingdom and Canada (Cremonini et al, par.1).
To maintain the lead in maintaining the number of foreign students who study in USA, the government and the higher education office has intensified its promotional efforts. They have done this by opening several centers in different countries that serve different regions of the world and reducing the Visa regulatory rules for the students (Cremonini ET all, par.
Cremonini refers to the United States as the academic powerhouse meaning that it is academically attractive. He states that the attraction can be associated with civilization attraction which is a social contract pattern or a flow of people; a situation that explains why researchers and students tend to travel to countries and centers that are recognized and attractive.
A zone civilization attraction is sometimes referred to as a zone of prestige. Academic attraction is also related to other concepts used to study higher education mobility. The concepts posit that many of the educational possibilities are in specific places of the world and that become the most popular destinations for international students (Cremonini ET all, par. 6).
Ann White, the director of China-Hong for the Institute of International Education stated that the United States is the preferred destination for the Hong Kong students because they associate US degrees with quality and prestige. She added that students from Hong Kong are drawn to lifelong rewards and values of study in the United States of America (Institute of International Education p.2).
The other reason why for those students to prefer the US Universities and colleges is because they are in a better position to access information about higher education that is accurate and comprehensive as compared to other countries. There is an EducationUSA office in Hong Kong providing the needed information in addition to the increased level of activities by Universities and colleges from the USA to attract these students.
The IIE often organize the annual US Higher Education Fair in Hong Kong and it was reported that in the year 2008, it attracted twenty five percent more attendees when compared with the previous year (Institute of International Education p. 2).
The government has established a website with extensive databases of grants, scholarships and fellowships that are organized by Institute of International Education. The president and Chief Executive officer of IIE stated that the increased number of the international students in the US is as a result of the actions that are taken by the US government plus the Colleges and Universities to make sure that those students understand that they are welcome and that that their contribution to cultural and the environment is highly appreciated (Institute of International Education p. 2).
The USA Department of State online newsletter has in it the reasons as to why US education is preferred. One is that U.S. colleges and universities are known to have resources, faculty and facilities of high quality. To maintain the standards on these institutions, accreditation systems are used. Secondly, the education system in US features several types of academic and social environments, institutions, degree programs, entry requirements, and subjects from where students can specialize.
Thirdly, degrees in US have a wide range of tuition fees and living costs, in addition to the financial help that some colleges offer, this resulting into affordable education for many students. Finally, the Universities and colleges in the United States are flexible in offering courses that one can even study in one college for two years and then move to another for the next two years (Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs).
Several Universities in US have come up with academic and social programs for the international students. The support program may be based on identifying the students at risk, analyzing their languages and cross- cultural needs, research their academic performance, assist in finding accommodation, monitoring their income and providing the exit support so that the students can be prepared to enter global labour markets. This is helpful as USA continues to compete for international students with other nations (Clendenin, par. 2-5).
From the research, it is clear that the United States of America is the largest destination for the international Students. However, this has not been achieved easily but through policies and activities by the government to attract many students to the nation. However, it is also clear that the nation is facing stiff competition from other nations such as Britain and Germany. With such programs that have been initiated to maintain the number of students, US will continue leading in this area.