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ASU among top universities chosen by international students

November 17, 2009

ASU is once again among the top choices for international students, placing 18th in the nation among all colleges and universities, according to a report released this week from the Institute of International Education.

ASU has 3,549 international students enrolled this fall, up from 3,478 last year. Although the university doesn’t do any recruiting overseas, ASU continues to draw students from more than 120 countries because of the breadth of its programs and its increasing reputation. 

This is the highest number to enroll at ASU since Sept. 11, when international enrollment peaked at 3,611 in the fall of 2001.

“We have excellence in so many fields, and our offerings are so broad that these students can find whatever course of study they want at ASU,” says Kathleen Fairfax, vice provost at the ASU Center for Global Education Services. “The reputation of ASU has been greatly enhanced in the last few years through the work of our faculty.

“These students are a tremendous benefit to our student body, who gain an international perspective from the presence of so many people from all over the world. And the financial benefit to the university and the economy of the state is considerable.”

International students contribute $17.8 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.

India continues to be the leading country of origin for ASU international students, followed closely by China. But the representation from these two countries is changing, as China’s enrollment grew 34 percent to 790 and India’s dropped 15 percent to 864.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, more Chinese students are seeking college degrees because their government has pushed to make secondary education universal, but there are not enough high-quality institutions in China to meet the need.

A rising middle class in both India and China means more families have the money to send their children overseas to study, the Chronicle reported.

The next highest countries of origin at ASU are South Korea, Taiwan, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico.

The most popular major at ASU is engineering, followed by business, which has experienced a 40 percent increase over last year. There also has been an increased interest in the arts and sciences.

The majority are graduate students, at 2,195, with another 1,220 enrolled as undergraduates, about the same proportion as last year. The Institute for International Education counts another 900 students in the total, since they include graduates who are in a practical training program and students who are enrolled in the American English and Culture Program.