International Spotlight

Illinois #2 destination in U.S. for international students

11/11/2013  8:00 am

More international students chose the University of Illinois than all but one other school in the U.S. in 2012-13, according to the highly-circulated Institute of International Education’s annual Open Doors report released Monday.

International enrollment at Illinois, as compiled for the Open Doors report, was 9,804 as of Fall 2012, with 8,683 of those on campus as graduate or professional students (4,446) or as undergraduates (4,237). Total student enrollment was 42,883.

The other 1,121 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.)

Having international students on campus is an asset in helping better prepare thousands of Illinois high school graduates, now at Illinois, to become leaders in the global society, according to A. Bryan Endres, 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," Endres said.

The 2012-13 figures place the university behind only the University of Southern California as the choice of international students attending college in the U.S. in the fall of 2012. USC reported 9,840 international students.

Illinois ranked first among all public institutions, followed by Purdue University and the University of California at Los Angeles. Overall, eight 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," Endres said. In 2008, Illinois won the Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization, and in 2013, led the nation in the number of Fulbright Scholars, a repeat of the same distinction earned in 2010.

Overall, the number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by 7.2 percent to 819,644 during the 2012-13 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 21.4 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.