Traditionally, the United States (U.S.) has been the preference for foreign student's studying abroad. Studying in the United States is popular because they are well known for their vast number of reputable educational institutions, their standards for delivering high quality educational experiences, and the diverse offerings that are available in each area of study.
In 2009 there were more than 670,000 international students enrolled in U.S. educational institutions as reported in the Open Doors annual research study. These numbers are derived from college enrollments reported during the 2007 - 08 school year. International enrollment in U.S. institutions increased by more than 40,000 students annually over the past two years, while total U.S. college enrolments have continued to increase by more than 250,000 annually over the past 10 years.
Historically, more than half the foreign students studying in the United States are from India and China. Foreign students from India and China continue to represent more than half of the international students who attend college in the U.S. However, Saudi Arabia have shown a drastic upward shift in foreign enrollments with an annual increase of greater than 2000 students enrolling in U.S. colleges since 2007 as reported in the Open Doors study.
Students choose to study in the United States for a number of reasons, including:
1. Availability of post-secondary education in some foreign countries is limited.
2. The quality of accessible education is often poor in their country of origin.
3. Foreign institutions have a limited number of academic seats available to accept admissions in each area of study, resulting in a large number of students who look to foreign educational opportunities to earn a college degree.
4. Qualified, high quality teachers are not available in foreign institutions to meet the increasing demand for institutional enrollment.
5. Educational and academic structure in foreign countries (such as India, Haiti, Arab countries and Asian nations) is rote, it lacks real life application and suffers from an absence of intellectual and technical knowledge that is a direct result of highly qualified educators moving or relocating to areas with increased wages or more favorable geographic locations.
Countries such as India, Arabia and Haiti struggle with their ability to provide consistent, high quality educational opportunities because they have challenging conflicts between private verses public institutions, suffer from the quality and availability of education being poor and are burdened by a significantly low number of students seats available for admission, approximately 20 per discipline. In many countries colleges and universities are not readily accessible and may be limited to urban areas which create problems with transportation and living arrangements for students living in rural areas.
There are many reasons foreign students choose to study abroad, some of them unrelated to seeking a high quality education. In some cultures a foreign education is guarded among the highest honor and respect that a family can receive. For some students, attending college in a foreign country can be attributed to their families desire to move from their country of origin and immigrate for a better quality of life. In respect to U.S. students, studying abroad is less expensive and gives them an opportunity to seek financial assistance that may not be available to them in the U.S.
Many educational opportunities for foreign students have become available to meet the increasing demand for post-secondary education, including grant programs, college improvement initiatives, government funded educational programs, and private institutions. Unfortunately, all of these new opportunities are not for the benefits of the students, the uprising of private colleges in many foreign countries have created false opportunities. Private institutions offer accessible educational opportunities, distance learning and funding programs that in some cases are far below academic standards and result in students earning degrees that are not recognized or accredited. The challenges that foreign students are plagued with make the opportunity to study in a foreign country appealing.