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UCLA Ranks 9th in Foreign Students, 3rd in Study Abroad

UCLA Ranks 9th in Foreign Students, 3rd in Study Abroad

IIE's Open Doors report says UCLA foreign enrollment is steady, study abroad on the rise.

A lot of these students are teaching assistants, research assistants, so they bring in intellectual capital.


UCLA houses the ninth-largest population of international students at U.S. institutions of higher learning, according to the 2005 Open Doors report issued Nov. 14. The survey, conducted by the Institute of International Education (IIE), a New York–based educational and cultural exchange organization, says that UCLA enrolled 4,217 students from overseas, more than 10 percent of the total enrollment. This is a slight decrease from last year's 4,320 international students enrolled. The nation's leading host institution, the University of Southern California, enrolled 6,846 foreign students, who make up over 20 percent of its student body.

The Open Doors report also says that UCLA sends the third-largest number of students overseas. The number of UCLA students receiving academic credit for coursework outside the country reached 2,034 in the 2003–04 academic year, up by more than 100 students from the previous year.

Lawrence Gower, director of the UCLA Office of International Students and Scholars, says international students and scholars come to UCLA because of its stellar reputation "particularly for nations in Asia."

In all, more than 565,000 foreign students are enrolled at U.S. universities and colleges, largely from Asia and particularly from India (80,466), China (62,523), and South Korea (53,358). While the number of students from the Middle East declined by 9 percent in 2004, this year appears to be a period of leveling off.

Capital Flows

Most international students at UCLA study hard sciences, engineering, and business, says Gower. They bring money to the University because they pay out-of-state fees. Open Doors estimates that international students bring over $13 billion into the U.S. economy in tuition and living expenses, most of which comes from students' families.

More importantly, Gower says, the students contribute to UCLA's educational mission. "A lot of these students are teaching assistants, research assistants," says Gower, "so they bring in intellectual capital."

Danilo Bonilla, Interim Administrative Director of UCLA's Education Abroad Program (EAP) an an EAP counselor, attributes the increased numbers of UCLA students going abroad to a recruitment program his department initiated in the fall of 2003.

On Oct. 18, the 2005 EAP Fair featured international exchange students and well as students who had recently returned from EAP's programs in 35 countries. About 1,000 people attended the fair, which was held in Ackerman Student Union.

"I think having students there, word of mouth, people telling friends—that's valuable," explains Bonilla. The positive accounts of returning students encourage others to sign up, he says.

Students around the country are going abroad in larger numbers, according to the Open Doors report. Over 191,000 received academic credit for coursework outside the United States in the 2003–04 academic year, continuing a consistent increase in study abroad since the 1980s. China has seen the most significant growth: 4,737 American students studied there in 2003–04, a 90 percent rise from 2002–03, when the SARS epidemic forced many spring and summer programs to close. The United Kingdom continues to be the most popular destination for American students, with 32,237 studying there in the last academic year.