The number of foreign students attending Washington’s colleges and universities is on the rise, with China topping the list of countries whose students come here to study, according to a report issued Monday by the Institution of International Education (IIE).
Nationally, foreign students are attending U.S. institutions in record numbers, according to the IIE report.
During the 2010-11 academic year, Washington ranked 11th among all states and the District of Columbia in the number of foreign students attending higher education institutions. The state hosted 17,811 from other countries during the year, an increase of 8.3 percent, the IIE report stated.
Foreign-student enrollments still represent a small percentage of the state’s overall student enrollment. In fall 2010, more than 386,000 students were enrolled full- or part-time in Washington’s two-and four-year public colleges and universities, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Education and the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.
Both nationally and in Washington State, China topped the list of countries providing foreign students, accounting for nearly 22 percent of Washington’s foreign-student population. Other nations with strong student representation here were South Korea (13.5 percent), Vietnam (9.4 percent), and Japan (8.5 percent).
The University of Washington led the list of Washington institutions with the highest foreignstudent enrollments, followed by Washington State University, Green River Community College, Seattle Central Community College and Edmonds Community College. Nearly 18 percent of this year’s UW freshman class is from another country, according to an article in today's Seattle Times.
Ross Jennings, an associate vice president at Green River Community College, suggested in the Times article that some foreign students may be attracted to Washington’s community and technical colleges when they learn that two-year institutions—which are unknown in other parts of the world—offer a doorway to the state’s baccalaureate institutions.
Whatever the reasons foreign students are coming here, colleges and universities—as well as the state as a whole—benefit economically from their presence. Foreign students pay out-of-state tuition, which is $27,707 for an undergraduate attending the UW Seattle this year, compared to $10,223 for a resident undergraduate student.
Some see the higher-paying foreign students as helping subsidize resident students at a time when colleges and universities are significantly increasing tuition rates in response to cuts in state funding for higher education.
Like resident students, foreign students also boost the state economy through their spending on such necessities as room and board, books, supplies, and transportation. The IIE study estimated foreign students contributed $21 billion to the U.S. economy, including $463.7 million in spending in Washington State.