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Report: International students on the rise at U.S. colleges

Subeg Singh, an NYIT graduate from Punjab, India,

Subeg Singh, an NYIT graduate from Punjab, India, takes a photo of, from left, Werda Alam, 20, of Bellmore, Sharifa Clarke, 20, of Barbados, and Ada Wong, 21, of Bellmore, on Feb. 20, 2015. International students enrollment in U.S. colleges and universities is at a record high, according to a new report. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

International students’ enrollment in U.S. colleges and universities is at a record high, with their numbers surpassing the 1 million mark last school year — while a relatively small fraction of American students studied abroad, according to a report released Monday.

The 2016 Open Doors Report by the Institute of International Education, a Manhattan-based nonprofit that tracks student mobility, found that China, India, Saudi Arabia and South Korea continued to be the top countries of origin for international students at U.S. institutions.

New York is the second-leading host state, behind California — with New York City as the top-hosting metropolitan area. New York University was the top host institution for international students, followed by the University of Southern California, according to the report.

“International students value the quality, diversity and strong reputation of U.S. institutions, and recognize that these institutions will give them opportunities that can help them not only in their education, but also in their careers,” Institute of International Education president Allan Goodman said in a statement. “The more we can open doors to other cultures for our students, the better off our country and our world will be.”

The total number of international students in the 2015-16 school year was 1,043,839, a 7.1 percent rise over the previous year. They accounted for 5.2 percent of all students in the U.S. higher education system. The top destinations were public and private schools in California, New York and Texas.

International students contributed nearly $36 billion to the U.S. economy, according to U.S. Department of Commerce data, which was included in the report.

Meanwhile, 313,415 U.S. students studied abroad for academic credit. While that number is an increase of 2.9 percent, it represents less than 2 percent of the college population.

“We need to empower more of America’s future leaders to experience the world beyond our borders,” said Evan Ryan, assistant secretary of state for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, which partnered with the Institute of International Education on the report. “International education helps people develop the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in today’s global economy, and creates networks across borders that improve international understanding and strengthen the national security of the United States.”

The Institute of International Education has been collecting annual data on international students since the group was founded in 1919. The Open Doors report has been produced since 1954.

Long Island’s colleges and universities benefit from being close to New York City and have been recruiting and welcoming international students as well as those from other areas of the U.S. for years, enrollment officials say.

“The population of high school graduates here is dropping and continues to drop and that means institutions here need to reach out beyond a commutable distance,” said Ron Maggiore, vice president for enrollment management at New York Institute of Technology, which has two main campuses, in Old Westbury and Manhattan.

Nearly 80 percent of NYIT’s international student population is from China and India.

The private, nonprofit university saw its population of students from India nearly quadruple from the fall 2013 semester to the same semester in 2015, Maggiore said.

But the numbers fell this academic year. In 2015-16, NYIT’s international student population included 834 undergraduates and 1,729 graduate students. This fall, the school enrolled 574 undergraduates and 1,579 graduate students from other countries.

Maggiore pointed to a temporary freeze in student visas at the consulate in Hyderabad, India, as one reason for the decrease.

Other programs on the Island are making strides in sending U.S. students abroad.

At Hofstra University, a partnership between the Frank G. Zarb School of Business and Dongbei University of Finance and Economics in Dalian, China, offers a degree from both schools and requires the American students to study and hold an internship in China.

“It’s definitely a valuable experience, particularly for business majors, because we have such a global economy,” said Simeon Ishwari Das, 21, of Oceanside, a student in the dual bachelor’s degree program. “Everyone says its going global. It’s not just going global — it is global.”

Das spent six weeks in China this summer and plans to return after graduating next year. He said he was surprised there weren’t more American students there; many of the foreign students studying in China seemed to be from Europe or Africa, he said.

“The biggest lesson I learned is how culture plays a part in conducting business over there [China],” he said. “You just gain so much in living day to day.”

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