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ASU among top choices for international students

November 16, 2010

ASU is among the top choices for international students, placing 20th in the nation last year among all colleges and universities, according to a report released this week from the Institute of International Education (IIE).

ASU has a record 3,856 international students enrolled in fall 2010, up from 3,549 last year. The university draws students from 127 countries around the world because of the breadth of its programs and its increasing reputation. The IIE compiles its ranking each year based on the previous year’s enrollment numbers.

“We have developed closer ties with foreign embassies and foundations looking for highly rated U.S. universities in which to place their best scholarship students,” says Kathleen Fairfax, vice provost at the ASU Center for Global Education Services “ASU is increasingly a top choice for these students and their sponsors because of our excellence and international reputation in such a wide array of disciplines.”

International enrollment at ASU had peaked at 3,611 in the fall of 2001, dropping below 3,000 in the years following the events of 9/11. The number of foreign students has inched up at colleges nationwide ever since, though the faltering U.S. economy has made progress slow.

International students contribute nearly $20 billion to the U.S. economy through their expenditures on tuition and living expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Higher education is among the United States’ top service sector exports.

For the first time, China is the leading country of origin for ASU international students, followed closely by India, which had long been the leader. China’s enrollment grew 26 percent to 995 and India’s remained static at 866.

The next highest countries of origin are South Korea (344), Saudi Arabia (168), Canada (155), Taiwan (151) and Mexico (101).

“ASU has embarked on several innovative, collaborative programs with partner universities abroad, resulting in a significant increase in the number of students from Asia,” says Fairfax. “Program models such as ‘3+2’ and ‘2+2’ enable highly qualified international students to begin their studies in their home countries and then transfer to ASU to finish graduate and undergraduate degrees.”

The most popular ASU major is engineering, with 1,468 students, followed by business, a field that has increased 45 percent to 700 students over the last two years. There also has been an increased interest in the arts and sciences, with 694 majors.

The majority are graduate students, at 2,324, with another 1,532 enrolled as undergraduates, a higher proportion than last year.

ASU also has more recent graduates studying abroad on Fulbright grants this year than any other public college except for the University of Michigan, with 20 alumni in 13 different countries.

(The IIE report counts an additional 800 to 900 ASU students in the total international enrollment, since they include students who are in a practical training program or are enrolled in the American English and Culture Program.)