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2,000+ foreign students enrolled

A national organization's report on where foreign students study in the United States shows that 2,148 of them were at MIT. The figure for the previous year was 2,198.

There were 452,635 students from other countries enrolled at US colleges in 1994-95, up from 449,749 the year before, the report says. The growth is attributed to a growing number of students from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Among Massachusetts colleges, MIT was fourth, behind Boston University, which leads the nation with 4,734; Harvard, with 3,410; and Northeastern, with 2,383.

The national report did not distinguish between graduate and undergraduate students. MIT data for the same academic year, 1994-95, lists 1,787 graduate students and 364 undergraduates, representing 22 percent of the student body. (When the MIT report was done, there were 2,151 foreign students at the Institute, 3 fewer than the national report notes.) The leading countries represented at MIT were Canada (223), China (210), Japan (144), India (127) and Korea (100), according to MIT's International Student Report for the previous academic year.

At the national level, BU was followed by the University of Southern California, 4,259; the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 3,964; New York University, 3,832; Ohio State University, 3,760; the University of Texas-Austin, 3,753; Columbia University, 3,644; and Harvard, 3,410.

The figures were collected and reported by the Institute of International Education, which has published an annual head count called the Open Doors Report since 1949. The institute, a not-for-profit educational and cultural exchange organization, is supported by a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Information Agency.

The United States remains the leading host country, the report, said, with more than one-third of all students who study outside their own countries enrolled in US institutions. As a group, foreign students comprise three percent of the total US higher-education population, the report noted.

The next largest group, 139,963, is studying in France. Germany is third with 116,474, followed by the United Kingdom, with 88,141.

The report noted that in 1994-95, Japan displaced China as the leading home country of foreign students studying in the United States. The 45,276 students from Japan comprised nearly 10 percent of the total foreign student population. While numbers of students from all of Asia declined slightly for the first time in 20 years, the report noted, Asian students comprise 57 percent of the foreign student population in the United States.

In addition to a decline in students from China in particular and Asia in general "comes a notable decrease in the percentage of foreign students who are studying at the graduate level in the US," the report noted.

In a section headed "The Economics of Exchange," the report noted that foreign students spend $7 billion each year in the United States, "creating an estimated 100,000 full- and part-time jobs in state and local economies through what they spend while studying here."

The report also said that foreign students and their families pay the majority of the costs associated with their education in the United States. "Over two-thirds of all foreign students fund their US education primarily from personal and family sources, and more than three-quarters receive most of their funding from sources outside the United States." The report said that US colleges and universities are the main source of funding for 16.5 percent of the students. It said 1.2 percent of foreign students receive primary funding from the US government.

"Few Americans realize that the US government's contribution in the form of fellowships from USIA and USAID-sponsored programs is quite modest, compared to the huge financial investment made by foreign students and their families," said Richard M. Kranso, president and chief executive of the Institute of International Education, the group issuing the national report.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 15, 1995.

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