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Updated 7:00 AM November 16, 2009

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U-M attracting international students, more study abroad

The university attracted 5,790 international students to the state in 2008-09, the sixth highest total of any U.S. university, according to an Institute of International Education report showing international enrollments nationwide grew to a record 671,616.

The University of Southern California had the largest number of international students (7,482) followed by New York University, Columbia University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Purdue University and U-M, according to the Open Doors '09 report. The reports are based on federally required counts of currently enrolled as well as recently enrolled foreign students continuing academic or other related training in the United States.

The report found U-M and Michigan State University, in the top 15 for both international enrollment as well as study abroad programs. MSU ranked second in the nation for sending the most students abroad (2,969) during 2007-08, while U-M ranked 13th, with 1,969. For international enrollments, MSU ranked 10th in the nation with 4,757 students.

Skilled immigrants are major job and wealth creators: more than 33 percent of Michigan high tech startup companies were begun by foreign-born founders between 1995 and 2005 and most of those immigrants were lured to the state by its research universities, according to a Duke University study.

This year's increase in international enrollments is the largest percentage increase since 1980-81, and marks the third consecutive year of significant growth (with increases of 8 percent in 2008-09, 7 percent in 2007-08 and 3 percent in 2006-07).

Open Doors 2009 data also found the number of "new" international students — those enrolled for the first time at a U.S. college or university in fall 2008 — increasing by 16 percent, following two years of 10 percent increases. The largest growth was seen in undergraduate enrollments, driven largely by increases in undergraduate students from China.

At the same time, 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 global society.

Open Doors 2009 also reports the number of Americans studying abroad increased by 8.5 percent to 262,416 in the 2007-08 academic year. Four times as many U.S. students were participating in study abroad programs in 2007-08 than in 1987-88.

The Open Doors report is published by the Institute of International Education, the leading not-for-profit educational and cultural exchange organization in the United States. The census is based on a survey of close to 3,000 accredited U.S. institutions.

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