International students hit record numbers at US colleges

Just 10% of colleges account for most of the growth

A surge of students from China and India drove international student enrollment to record levels last year, according to the 2015 Open Doors data from the Institute of International Education.

International student enrollment grew 10% in 2014-15. On average, one in 20 students studying at a U.S. college is now an international student.

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China and India continued to be the top sources of international students. The cohorts from Brazil and Saudi Arabia boomed once again, although they still represent a relatively small share of the overall international student population.

But according to an analysis by the Chronicle of Higher Education, the enrollment boom has not been spread evenly nationwide. About 70% of the growth between 2005-2006 and 2014-2015 was concentrated at just 10% of colleges.

Many of the institutions that have a greater market share of international students tend to be large research universities, according to the Chronicle's analysis. "The pipeline is already there," says Fanta Aw, president of Nafsa: Association of International Educators. "The perception of quality at the graduate level trickles down."

But in the wake of state budget cuts, some public institutions like the University of Washington and University of California system began more heavily recruiting international students, who pay higher tuition (Fischer, Chronicle of Higher Education, 11/16; Belkin, Wall Street Journal, 11/16).

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