Worries that the worldwide economic downturn would trigger a slip in international education should be largely alleviated by this year’s “Open Doors” report, which shows that during the peak of the recession, international student enrollment continued to rise and — for the first time in the report’s history — the total number of U.S. students who studied abroad declined slightly.
Also, China overtook India as the country sending the most international students to the U.S.
Open Doors 2010 was expected to reflect the foundering economy because of how — and when — the report’s data are collected. This year’s report measures the most recent numbers available: international students in the U.S. in 2009-10 and American students abroad the year before that. That means the international students captured in this year’s version of the study were assessing their financial situations and deciding whether to go abroad in 2008-9, and American students were doing the same thing in 2007-8. “This is certainly not a good year to expect a whole lot of people to continue their aspirations to study abroad,” said Peggy Blumenthal, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Institute of International Education.