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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 18, 2003

International Student Enrollment Steady; Study Abroad On Rise

Left photo: A UI student from Thailand participates in the annual International Programs Open House for K-12 students.
Right Photo: Jana Bodensteiner (far right), a December 2002 UI graduate, studied abroad in Israel.

International student enrollment at the University of Iowa has remained relatively stable this year while the number of students studying abroad has increased, according to figures from UI International Programs and the Office of the Registrar.

The UI numbers are in line with national trends, according to a report released this month. The Open Doors Report is an annual report on international education exchange compiled by the Institute for International Education (IIE), the world's leading research and membership association on international education.

As of fall 2003, the number of international students enrolled at the UI is 2,139, a decrease of three students from the previous year. The Open Doors report shows that international student enrollment increased by 0.6 percent nationwide, the smallest increase since 1995-96. This follows five consecutive years of steady growth.

"Despite all the restrictions and legal complications, I'm very pleased that the numbers didn't drop," said Scott King, director of the UI Office of International Students and Scholars. "This is a time when just maintaining the numbers is very positive. It shows that we must still be very attractive to students."

King and his colleagues at universities nationwide attribute the decline to a variety of factors including new visa application processes, financial difficulties and competition from other host countries.

At the UI, the five countries with the largest enrollment are: China, 508 this fall, down from 541 in 2001-02; Korea, 279, up from 254; India, 275, up from 253; Japan, 104, up from 99; and Taiwan, 85, up from 77. Nationally, India is the leading country of origin followed by China, Korea and Japan, according to the Open Doors report.

Janis Perkins, director of the UI Office for Study Abroad, reported that 921 UI students studied abroad during 2002-03, up from 857 students the previous year, an increase of 7.5 percent. The top five destinations in 2002-2003 were the United Kingdom (186), Spain (114), France (90), Australia (63), and Italy (50).

The IIE did not have study abroad data for 2002-03 but showed an increase of 4.4 percent in the number of U.S. college students receiving credit for study abroad in 2001-2002. That same year, the number of UI students studying abroad increased by 11 percent over 2000-2001.

"I am gratified that University of Iowa students are increasingly convinced of the academic and personal benefits of an experience abroad, despite an uncertain economy and international tensions," Perkins said.

The Open Doors report says that international students contribute nearly $12 billion dollars to the U.S. economy in money spent on tuition, living expenses, and related costs. A separate report from NAFSA: Association of International Educators on the economic impact of international students estimates that foreign students at the UI brought $43 million into the Iowa economy last year. Nearly 75 percent of all international student funding comes from personal and family sources or other sources outside of the United States. Department of Commerce data describe U.S. higher education as the country's fifth largest service sector export.

For more information about study abroad, contact Janis Perkins, (319) 335-0353, and for more information on international students and scholars, contact Scott King, 319-335-0335. Information on the Open Doors report can be found at

International Programs consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost for academic programs and dean of International Programs (IP), these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Study Abroad: Janis Perkins, 319-335-0353; International Students: Scott King, 319-335-0335; Writer: Kent Nguyen