Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 16, 2009

UI international undergraduate enrollment surges, study abroad continues to grow

International student enrollment at the University of Iowa continues to grow in line with national trends but is substantially ahead in areas such as international undergraduate student enrollment. This is according to data released today, Monday, Nov. 16 by the UI Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) in conjunction with the Open Doors Report published annually by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

The number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by 8 percent to an all-time high of 671,616 for the fall 2008 term, according to the Open Doors Report. This is the largest percentage increase in international student enrollment since 1980-81, and marks the third consecutive year of significant growth. The Open Doors report is based upon fall 2008 data and thus is one year behind the current academic term.

intl studentsUI's international student enrollment increased by 10.5 percent in fall 2008 to 2,379 -- 226 students more than in fall 2007 -- with 576 undergraduates, 1,615 graduate and professional students and 188 students in the post-graduation training period. Fall 2009 enrollments at UI, which will be part of the 2010 Open Doors Report, grew to 2,589 with a nearly 40 percent increase in undergraduate students to 802.

"We are proud to welcome to the university the largest group of undergraduate international students ever," said Downing Thomas, associate provost and dean of UI International Programs. "These students come here to receive a world-class education. They also benefit Iowa economically, add a significant element of diversity to our campus and will return home as alums and ambassadors for the University of Iowa abroad."

The UI's increase in international student enrollment has been, in part, the result of an international recruiting effort initiated in fall 2007 by the UI Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS), Office of Admissions and English as a Second Language Program (ESL). The university has particularly focused on East and Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East and Latin America in its recruiting campaign, and is seeing increasing populations from all those areas.

The Open Doors 2009 data reports on enrollments in academic year 2008-09 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. The findings do not reflect the full impact of the past year's economic downturn, since decisions to come to the United States to study were made before the financial effects were fully felt in the sending countries.

The UI's Fall 2009 international student population originates from 115 countries and territories. The top five countries with the largest enrollment in fall 2009 are China with 908 students, up from 627; India with 374 students, up from 373; South Korea with 317 students, down from 318; Taiwan with 116 students, down from 118; and Japan with 59 students, down from 69.

International students contribute $17.8 billion to the U.S. economy in money spent on tuition, living expenses and related costs, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. In 2008-09, the state of Iowa received more than 204 million from international students, Nearly 61.5 percent of all international students reported their primary source of funding coming from personal and family sources or other sources outside the United States.

UI profiles of international students and scholars can be found at The fall 2009 profile will be posted shortly.

Study abroad expansion a priority at UI

A record number of U.S. students are choosing to study abroad, reflecting a strong commitment to the value of an international academic experience to prepare them to live and work in a more global society. Open Doors 2009 reports the number of Americans studying abroad increased by 8.5 percent to 262,416 in the 2007-08 academic year.

studyabroadThe total number of UI students studying abroad continues to increase as well. During 2007-08 academic year, 1,218 UI students -- 853 undergraduates and 365 graduate and professional students -- studied abroad. This is a 5.3 percent increase from 2006-07. Undergraduates who studied abroad during 2007-08 had 64 different majors, representing most majors in all the undergraduate colleges.

"Study abroad is one of a handful of activities that has been shown to have a strong, positive impact on graduation rates, even among students who are not the best prepared for college," Thomas said. "This is one reason why expansion of study abroad is a priority. We are very pleased to be able to offer student more varied types of study abroad experiences than ever before, and ones that are adapted to all areas of study from engineering to the arts."

UI undergraduates studied abroad in 59 different countries during 2007-08. The highest concentration of undergraduates - 57 percent -- was in Western Europe. Fourteen percent studied in Latin America, 12 percent in Asia, 6 percent in Oceania (Australia & New Zealand), and 11 percent in all other regions combined.

In 2008-09, 1,283 UI students studied, worked or conducted research abroad. This represents a 5.3 percent increase from the previous year when 1,218 students studied abroad. The IIE will release the national study abroad comparisons for 2008-09 in the November 2010 Open Doors report. The 2007-08 UI Study Abroad statistics can be found at

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 Office of International Students and Scholars Director Scott King at 319-335-0335. For more information about study abroad, contact, Office of Study Abroad Director Janis Perkins at 319-335-0353. Information on the 2009 Open Doors report can be found at

The Office for Study Abroad and OISS are part of International Programs at the UI, your global intersection, connecting students, faculty, staff and the Iowa community to the world. For more information visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the UI Office of the Provost.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Scott King, Office of International Students and Scholars, 319-335-0335,; Janis Perkins, UI Office for Study Abroad, 319-335-0353,; Lois J. Gray, 319-384-0077,