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U. of I. top choice among U.S. public schools for international students

11/15/2011 | Matt VanderZalm, International Programs and Studies | 217-244-1724; mvanderz@illinois.edu

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had the highest enrollment of international students of all public colleges and universities in the U.S. in 2010, according to a report released Monday by the Institute of International Education. Only the University of Southern California, a private school, had a higher enrollment of international students.

International enrollment at the U. of I., as compiled for the Open Doors report, was 7,991 as of fall 2010, with 7,271 of those on campus as graduate or professional students (3,794) or as undergraduates (3,477). Total student enrollment was 41,949.

The other 720 had completed their academic studies but remained in the U.S., working under a program known as Optional Practical Training. (All of the schools’ enrollment numbers include OPT for the purposes of the report.)

“This is great news because it says to me that nations around the world recognize the excellence in our faculty, academic programs, research and facilities,” said Phyllis M. Wise, who is the chancellor of the Urbana campus and a U. of I. vice president.

“American universities on the Pacific Rim are easily accessible to students from Asia,” Wise said. “But for international students from Asia and really from anywhere in the world to choose to come all the way here to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign means that we have truly become a recognized global university.”

Having international students on campus is an asset in helping better prepare thousands of Illinois high school graduates now at the U. of I. to become leaders in the global society, according to Wolfgang Schlör, interim associate provost for international affairs. “International students add to the diversity of backgrounds and perspectives among our student body and provide a richer cultural and academic experience for everyone,” Schlör said.

Ranked first in terms of international student enrollment in 2010, USC reported 8,615 international students.

Following Illinois among public institutions were Purdue University and the University of California at Los Angeles. Nine of the top 20 institutions on the Open Doors list, including both publics and privates, are Big Ten universities.

The numbers confirm Illinois’ continued commitment toward becoming a true “global university,” Schlör said. In 2008, Illinois won the Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization, and U. of I. students that year also approved – and recently renewed – a $5 per semester student fee to fund the Illinois 4 Illinois (I4I) study abroad scholarships.

Overall, the number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by 4.7 percent to 723,277 during the 2009-10 academic year, according to the Open Doors report. This represents a record high number of international students in the United States, driven largely by a 23.3 percent increase in the number of Chinese students.

The Institute of International Education has conducted an annual census of international students in the U.S. since its founding in 1919. Open Doors has been published by the institute since 1949, and has received support from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in the U.S. Department of State since the 1970s.

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