China Surges Past India as Top Home of Foreign Students

The annual report of the Institute of International Education found that students from China have surpassed those from India in U.S. colleges and universities, in a clear indication of the rising wealth of many urban Chinese families. From the New York Times:

The report found that a record high of 690,923 international students came to the United States last year — nearly 128,000 of them, or more than 18 percent, from China. Over all, the number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased 3 percent for the 2009-10 academic year.

India, which in recent years had been in the top spot, increased its numbers only slightly, to 104,897 last academic year.

“The number of students from China is booming, because of that booming Chinese economy,” said Peggy Blumenthal, executive vice president of the institute. “But India, which also has a booming economy, is only up 1.6 percent. I think one factor is the great number of Chinese families with disposable income, two working parents and only one child, and a determination to invest their money to make sure that child receives the best possible.”

David B. Austell, director of the Office for International Students and Scholars at New York University, said the Chinese undergraduates came primarily from the large urban areas on China’s coast. Because they are not eligible for the same financial aid as Americans and usually pay full tuition, he said, their growing presence is an indicator of just how many Chinese families are financially strong.

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