Flush With Money, Eager Chinese Students Flock to U.S.

AP, November 17, 2008

Chinese students are enrolling in U.S. universities in record numbers, encouraged by aggressive recruiting combined with China’s booming economy and growing middle class.

Their enrollment grew by 8 percent in the fall of 2006 and by 20 percent last year, according to Institute of International Education figures being released Monday.

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Chinese enrollment increased 300 percent this year at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. George Fox University in Newberg, Ore., accepted 65 students from China, more than double its 2007 figure.

Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, already boasting a strong international student program, is enrolling 290 Chinese students, up from 127. The spike was more than 400 percent at Ohio State University, the nation’s largest campus, with 115 undergraduates from China compared with 20 last year.

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“In China you can seldom find people from the U.S., but in the U.S. you find people from all over the world,” Xiaoli said [Xiaoli Liu, an Ohio State freshman from Beijing].

The influx is part of a solid and welcomed rebound in the number of international students coming to the United States, with its giant pool of 4,000 colleges and universities.

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India again sent the most students, followed by China and South Korea. Enrollment from Saudi Arabia jumped 25 percent, putting the country back into the top 10 for the first time since 1982, thanks to a new Saudi government scholarship program.

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Kansas State enrolled 199 Chinese undergraduates, up from 65 last fall.

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International students and their families contribute more than $15 billion annually to the U.S. economy, according to a separate survey by NAFSA, the Association of International Educators, also being released Monday. And they typically pay higher out-of-state tuition, so they’re an important revenue source for colleges at a time when the supply of college-age American students is beginning to crest.

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Universities also like the international students’ cosmopolitan flair.

“We’re thrilled about the cultural benefits, the educational benefits it brings to our resident students,” said Mike Brzezinski, Purdue’s associate dean of international programs. “It gives them a study abroad experience right here on campus.”

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