A record number of international students studied at American colleges and universities last year, according to a report released on Monday. The yearly Open Doors Report from the Institute of International Education (IIE) found that American schools enrolled 819,644 foreign students last year, marking a 7 percent increase from the previous year.
The spike in international students was led by rising numbers of students from China and Saudi Arabia. China was the runaway leader in sending students to U.S. institutions with 236,000 attending last year. The number of Chinese students rose 21 percent from the pervious school year and accounted for more than a quarter of all international students.
The number of international students at U.S. colleges declined following 9/11, the Christian Science Monitor reports, but the trend has reversed of late and the numbers have increased each of the past seven years. IIE found that there are now 40 percent more foreign students in American colleges than a decade ago. The percentage of international students at American colleges, however, is still small, making up slightly less than 4 percent of total enrollment in American graduate and undergraduate programs, according to the report. International students’ spending while studying in the U.S. contributed some $24 billion to the American economy.