International Students Come to United States in Record Numbers, 16% Increase in New Foreign Student Enrollments is Largest Since 1980

Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
November 16, 2009

The number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by 8% to an all-time high of 671,616 in the 2008/09 academic year while the number of “new” international students — those enrolled for the first time at a U.S. college or university in fall 2008 — increased by 16%. This represents the largest percentage increase in international student enrollments since 1980/81. Those findings and more were released today in Open Doors 2009, the annualsurvey report published by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

“The all-time high number of international students who studied here in the 2008/09 academic year testifies to the quality and diversity for which American higher education is known around the world. The Department of State actively promotes the benefits of an American education,” said Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith A. McHale at a briefing today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. She added, “Our large network of more than 400 EducationUSA advising centers plays a key role in matching international students with a U.S. academic institution that’s just right for them.”

To better promote the benefits of an American education, a new EducationUSA website also debuts today, at The site features a “one-stop shop” new media-based student page plus a page dedicated to the U.S. higher education community complete with a searchable database of EducationUSA advising centers and other handy reference tools.

Encouraging academic and intellectual exchange between nations is vital to building increased mutual understanding and promoting U.S. security and economic wellbeing. International students contribute $17.8 billion to the U.S. economy, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, while enriching U.S. campuses and communities with their talent and diverse perspectives.

Open Doors 2009 data and analysis are available at

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) manages a wide range of academic, professional, and cultural exchanges, with the goal of increasing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Visit for more information.

Media Contact: Catherine Stearns, or 202-632-6437

PRN: 2009/1145