According to the most recent Open Doors report from the Institute of International Education, the total international student population in the United States has reached 1,094,792, which represents a growth of 1.5% over the previous year. International students now comprise 5.5% of the total US higher education student population.

Year Total Intl Students % Change
2014/15 974,926 10.0
2015/16 1,043,839 7.1
2016/17 1,078,822 3.4
2017/18 1,094,792 1.5


The rate of growth in international student enrollment has nevertheless slowed significantly over recent years. This trend is illustrated on the chart at left, which shows a considerable decline in the number of new student enrollments (after strong growth) over the last three years. Researchers have proposed a number of explanations for this decline, some of which concern changing conditions within certain countries that have sent large numbers of students to the US in the past. Additional factors include rising tuition and other costs at US institutions, as well as an increasingly competitive international recruitment environment. For some researchers, recent changes in the political climate have also played a role.


In terms of place of origin, students from China and India constitute approximately 51% of foreign students in the US. The number of students from China alone amounts to 363,341, or 33.2% of the total. In the case of US student mobility, this rose by 2.3% over the previous year, reaching a total of 332,727. Europe remains the top destination, with some 54% of all US study abroad experiences taking place in that part of the world. China, by comparison, was the destination for 3.6% of US students.


The report also contains, finally, some important data regarding the timing and duration of US study abroad experiences. In the case of the former, 38.5% of study abroad experiences take place during the summer term, a figure which has held steady in the ten years or so of Open Doors reporting. The vast majority of these summer study abroad experiences are in the two to eight-week range, with two-week programs accounting for 5% of the total. The trend toward shorter study abroad programming is more pronounced in the case of experiences which occur during the regular academic year. Here, trips of two weeks or less now account for 12% of the total – up from 8.3% during the 2010/2011 academic year.