The 2017 Open Doors Report shows a 3.4% increase in the number of international students coming to the U.S for higher education: 1,078,822 international students enrolled in United States higher education institutions in 2016/17 compared to 1,043,839 students in 2015/16. International students represent just over 5.3% of the more than 20 million students enrolled in U.S. higher education. China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Canada are the top five places of origin of international students in the U.S.

The Open Doors report further shows that international students continue to have a significant positive impact on the U.S. economy. According to the Department of Commerce, these students contributed more than $39 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016, in contrast to $35 billion in 2015.

Beyond the economic impact, international students positively influence U.S. classrooms. “Students from around the world…also contribute to America’s scientific and technical research and bring international perspectives into U.S. classrooms, helping prepare American students for global careers, and often lead to longer-term business relationships and economic benefits,” the report reads.

Speaking at the official release event of the 2017 Open Doors report, Alyson Grunder, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Senior Bureau Official of the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) noted:

International student exchange is an essential contributor to America’s economic competitiveness and national security. The U.S. higher education sector remains the global leader in welcoming students from around the world, and at the same time, we are committed to increasing opportunities to study abroad for Americans.

With regards to the latter, the 2017 Open Doors report shows a 3.8% increase in outbound students in 2015/16 (the most recent year for which data are available) compared to the previous year, 325,339 U.S. students studied abroad for academic credit and 23,125 participated in non-credit work, internships, and volunteering. The Caribbean, Europe, and Latin America were the leading destinations for U.S. students. Despite the increase, still only 1 in 10 U.S. undergraduates study abroad before graduating.

IIE’s Open Doors report is released annually in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). It includes extensive data on student demographics, fields of study, academic institutions, and host regions.

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