First-time foreign student enrollment at U.S. colleges grows

The enrollment of first-time foreign students at U.S. colleges rose in the most recent academic year despite the declining global economy, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports:

The analysis of visa figures from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, in a report out on Thursday by the National Science Foundation, shows foreign enrollments in American colleges increased by 3 percent in the fall of 2009, to 586,000.

…New enrollments in science and engineering grew by 4 percent, a larger increase than in recent years, but for the period from 2006 to 2009, science and engineering students accounted for a steady share of the foreign-student population, 44 percent. However, the number of first-time international students in graduate-level science and engineering programs dropped 2 percent from 2008 to 2009, suggesting that there could be smaller increases in foreign graduate enrollments in future years, the report's authors note.

The figures suggest that findings of more-robust growth on the undergraduate level, first identified in the annual ‘Open Doors’ report published last fall by the Institute of International Education, are holding.

Over all, the enrollment of foreign science and engineering students increased from China, India, the Middle East, and Africa, but there were dips in students from Europe, Central and South America, and Canada. Numbers of first-time international science and engineering students, particularly those from India, declined.