The number of American students studying abroad has increased as has the number of international students undergoing a period of higher education in the United States, new research shows.

And for the second year in a row US colleges and universities have hosted more than a million international students. The data from the Institute of International Education (IIE) shows they reached a record high of 1.08 million in 2016/2017.

It is also the eleventh year in a row that the total number of overseas students has increased in the US with the highest number now coming from China and India, followed by South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil.

The top host states were California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. Each of these states saw increases in international students in 2016/2017.

The UK is the most popular destination for American students, followed by Italy, Spain, France, and Germany. China dropped out of the top five host countries, as the number of US students studying there decreased by 9%.

The data also shows that Europe was the top host region, attracting more than 50% of Americans who studied abroad, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean, and then Asia. Strong growth was noted in Australia, Czech Republic, Cuba, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and South Africa.

However, the number of new students, that is those enrolling for the first time, fell by almost 10,000 to about 291,000, a decline of 3%. The report suggests this is due to a mix of global and local economic conditions, and in some cases expanded higher education opportunities at home and declining populations.

It also says that the scaling back of large government scholarship programmes in Saudi Arabia and Brazil were a significant factor, as the number of students from those two countries showed the biggest decreases, particularly in non-degree study.

Much of the increase reported for the past couple of years can be attributed to more students pursuing Optional Practical Training (OPT) related to their academic fields after their degree studies, and thus remaining longer in the US higher education system.

But the decline is not evenly distributed with 45% of campuses reporting declines in new enrolments for 2017, while 31% reported increases in new enrolments and 24% reported no change from last year.

‘Countries and multinational employers around the world are competing to attract top talent. As more countries become active hosts of international students and implement national strategies to attract them, the competition for top global talent in higher education and the workforce will only intensify,’ said IIE president and chief executive officer Allan Goodman.

‘Students continue to be attracted to the high quality and diverse opportunities offered by US colleges and universities. But it is critical for US institutions to set strategic goals and be proactive in reaching out to students and families in a wide range of countries in the coming year, and for the United States to keep its academic doors open to students from all over the world,’ he added.