The number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by 8% to a record high of 886,052 in the 2013/2014 academic year, a new report shows.

It confirms that the US is one of the most popular countries in the world for international study and has seen a growth in students from Indian and China.

UK Students

According to the Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange, the US hosts more of the world’s 4.5 million globally mobile college and university students than any other country in the world, with almost double the number hosted by the United Kingdom, the second leading host country.

The report also found that more American students, a total of 289,408, studied abroad for academic credit from their US colleges and universities, a rise of 2%, but this is a slightly slower rate of growth than the previous year.

The report, published annually by the Institute of International Education in partnership with the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, also shows that the overall number of international students in the US has grown by 72% since 2000.

There are five times as many Chinese students on US campuses compared with in 2000 almost two and a half times as many Indian students, seven and a half times as many Vietnamese students and more than 10 times as many Saudi students.

“International education is crucial to building relationships between people and communities in the United States and around the world. It is through these relationships that together we can solve global challenges like climate change, the spread of pandemic disease, and combatting violent extremism,” said Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

“We also need to expand access to international education for students from more diverse backgrounds, in more diverse locations of study, getting more diverse types of degrees. Only by engaging multiple perspectives within our societies can we all reap the numerous benefits of international education such as increased global competence, self-awareness and resiliency, and the ability to compete in the 21st century economy,” he added.

International experience is one of the most important components of a 21st century education, and study abroad should be viewed as an essential element of a college degree, according to IIE president Allan Goodman.

“Learning how to study and work with people from other countries and cultures also prepares future leaders to contribute to making the world a less dangerous place,” he said.

The report also shows that while students from China and Saudi Arabia together account for 73% of the growth, a wider range of countries contributed to the increase, with India, Brazil, Iran and Kuwait together accounting for an additional 18% of growth.

The fastest growing region this year was the Middle East and North Africa, with an increase of 20% in students enrolled in US higher education. There were 8% more students from Latin America and the Caribbean.

A total of 41 states experienced growth in the number of international students, with 18 states growing at a faster rate than the national increase of 8%. New York University became the leading host university for international students this year, after the University of Southern California topping the leader board for 12 years.