American universities are enrolling unprecedented numbers of foreign students, prompted by the rise of an affluent class in China and generous scholarships offered by oil-rich Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia.
Cash-strapped public universities also are driving the trend, aggressively recruiting students from abroad, especially undergraduates who pay a premium compared with in-state students.
There are 1.13 million foreign students in the U.S., the vast majority in college-degree programs, according to a report to be released Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security. That represents a 14% increase over last year, nearly 50% more than in 2010 and 85% more than in 2005.
The active recruitment of foreign students raises concerns that they are crowding out opportunities for U.S. students.
“There is a widespread notion that dollars are being spent on foreign students and that they are displacing U.S. students, even if in general that isn’t right,” said John Bound, a University of Michigan economist who has studied the influx.
Foreign tuition money subsidies U.S. students.
Schools need the tuition money. One way to look at it is that full-pay international students actually help subsidize the education of U.S. students who receive financial aid.