Chinese graduates are pictured during the Commencement ceremony of the 262nd Academic Year of Columbia University in New York, the United States on May 18, 2016. More than 15,000 graduates range in age from 18 to 82, including some 1800 international students from more than 100 countries participated in the ceremony here on Wednesday. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)
CHICAGO, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- New international students who enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities declined by nearly 10,000 in the 2016/17 academic year, or a three percent decrease from the previous year.
According to a report released on Monday by the U.S. Institute of International Education (IIE), about 291,000 foreign students were admitted to American higher educational institutions in autumn 2016. However, the overall number of international students studying in the U.S. still increased.
This is the first time that the number of new international students dropped in the 12 years since IIE started reporting about enrollments, based on the official statistics provided by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State.
"The factors driving the slowing of growth include a mix of global and local economic conditions, and in some cases expanded higher education opportunities at home and declining populations," said the IIE report.
The scaling back of large Saudi and Brazil government scholarship programs led to the sharp fall in the number of students from those two countries.
Still, in 2016/17, U.S. colleges and universities hosted more than one million international students for the second consecutive year, reaching a record high of 1.08 million.
More than 350,000 Chinese students were studying in the U.S. in 2016/17 academic year, making China maintain its first place of origin on the chart. India and South Korea followed China in the second and third place respectively.
International students brought 39 billion U.S. dollars to the American economy in 2016, through their spending on tuition, room and board, and living expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Meanwhile, IIE President and CEO Allan E. Goodman said that many countries around the world were competing to attract top talent.
"As more countries become active hosts of international students and implement national strategies to attract them, the competition for top global talent in higher education and the workforce will only intensify," he added.