The University of Iowa

UI international undergraduate enrollment surges, study abroad continues to grow

November 14th, 2010

From University News Services

International student enrollment at the University of Iowa is growing faster than national trends, especially among undergraduates, and the percentage of UI students studying abroad continues to climb. This is according to data released today by the UI International Student & Scholar Services and the UI Office for Study Abroad in conjunction with the Open Doors Report.

The report is published annually by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and is based on fall 2009 data.

The number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by 3 percent to 690,923 during the 2009-10 academic year, according to the Open Doors Report. This year’s growth was largely driven by a 30-percent increase in Chinese student enrollment in the United States to a total of nearly 128,000 students. With more than 18 percent of the total international student population, China is the leading sending country.

UI’s international student enrollment increased by almost 9 percent in fall 2009 to 2,589 — 210 students more than in fall 2008 — with 802 undergraduates, 1,621 graduate and professional students and 166 students in the post-graduation training period.

“We are delighted to see another record-breaking group of international students,” said Downing Thomas, associate provost and dean of UI International Programs. “Globalization involves sharing ideas, learning from differences and making life-long connections; and having students from over 100 countries around the world here on our campus is a part of that effort.”

The UI’s increase in international student enrollment has been, in part, the result of international recruiting efforts by International Programs, the Office of Admissions and English as a Second Language Program. The university has particularly focused on East and Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East and Latin America in its recruiting campaign, and is seeing strong interest from all of those areas.

The Open Doors 2010 data reports on enrollments in academic year 2009-10 based on a comprehensive survey of approximately 3,000 accredited higher education institutions of all types and sizes, regarding international students at all levels of study. This year’s enrollment numbers were affected by a period of economic downturn in the United States and throughout the world. There were strong increases in the number of students from a few countries, but more than half of the top 25 sending countries showed decreases, resulting in a slower rate of overall growth than had been seen in recent years.

UI study abroad participation increases
despite national trend

Although the national trend for 2008-09 saw a slight decrease in study abroad participation by U.S. students, the number of UI students studying abroad continues in an upward trend. Open Doors 2010 reports the number of Americans studying abroad decreased by 0.8 percent from 262,416 in the 2007-08 academic year to 260,327 the following year.

During 2008-09 academic year, 1,283 UI students — 884 undergraduates and 399 graduate and professional students – studied, worked or conducted research abroad, an overall increase of 5.3 percent. Undergraduates who studied abroad during 2008-09 had 60 different majors, representing most majors in all the undergraduate colleges.

“Because of high student interest and the strong correlation between study abroad and student success, the UI has made a priority of increasing study abroad program participation,” said Janis Perkins, assistant dean of International Programs for the Office for Study Abroad. “As a result, the economy has had less of an impact at Iowa than at other universities.”

Nationally, four of the top five leading study abroad destinations hosted fewer students than in previous years, as students that did study abroad did so in less-traditional destinations. Of the top destinations, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and France saw a decreased number of students while China hosted a 4 percent increase in students from the previous year.

UI undergraduates studied abroad in 60 different countries during 2008-09. Keeping with national trends, study abroad participation by UI students increased in Latin America (17 percent) and Oceania (Australia & New Zealand, 8 percent), and decreased slightly in Western Europe (55 percent). Slightly fewer UI students traveled to Asia (11 percent), and 9 percent of students went to different regions than listed above in 2008-09.

The Open Doors report is an annual publication on international education exchange compiled by the IIE, the world’s leading research and membership association on international education, with support from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

For more information on international students and scholars, contact Scott King, assistant dean of International Programs for ISSS, at 319-335-0335. For more information about study abroad, contact Perkins at 319-335-0353. Information on the 2010 Open Doors report can be found at

The Office for Study Abroad and ISSS are part of International Programs at the UI.

Writer: Katelyn McBride