The number of students from the Middle East at colleges and universities in the United States increased by 18 percent to a total of 29,140 students in the 2008/09 academic year, according to the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, which is published annually by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with support from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The report shows particularly strong increases in enrollments of students from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Qatar and Iran.
The number of students from Qatar studying in the United States increased by 34 percent, to 463 Qatari students enrolled in American colleges and universities. In addition to the students from Qatar enrolled on campuses in the United States, there were nearly 600 more Qatari students enrolled in US institutions in Education City. According to the US Embassy in Doha, the number of student visas issued for academic year 2008-2009 increased by almost 100 percent from the previous year. Other Middle Eastern countries with large increases in students enrolled in US higher education include Saudi Arabia (up 28 percent to 12,661), Jordan (up 24 percent 50 2,225), UAE (up 24 percent to 1,218) and Iran (up 16 percent to 3,533). IIE’s Open Doors report also finds that American students are choosing to study abroad in the Middle East in increasing numbers, although starting from a very low base. The number of American students studying in the Middle East increased by 22 percent, though the region is host to a little more than 1 percent of the total number of US students studying abroad. The report shows the number of US students rising dramatically in such countries as Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, although the total numbers are still very low. Twenty four American students received academic credit from their US home institutions for study in Qatar.
Overall, the number of international students from around the world at colleges and universities in the United States increased by 8 percent to an all-time high of 671,616 in the 2008/09 academic year. This is the largest percentage increase in international student enrollments since 1980/81, and marks the third consecutive year of significant growth.
Open Doors 2009 also reports that a record number of US students are choosing to study abroad, reflecting a strong commitment to the value of an international academic experience to prepare them to live and work in a more global society.
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