A crowd greets President Obama at USC in 2010.
A crowd greets President Obama at USC in 2010.

Student Immigrants Flock to California

One kind of immigrant just keeps on coming to California, and it's not the south-of-the-border worker.

It's the international student. The Institute of International Education (IIE) and the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs just released their 2016 Open Doors Report on the domestic population of students from overseas.

The big news is that the international student population in the United States topped 1 million for the first time. The report, sizing up the 2015-16 academic year, found a 7 percent increase in foreign students compared to the last academic year. The total is nearly 1,044,000, according to the analysis.

California was the "top destination" for international students stateside, according to the report. The Golden State also saw the highest increase, 10 percent, of any state when it comes to foreign student populations.

"California hosted nearly 150,000 international students in 2015-16, making it the top destination for students from abroad," the report states. "Four of the top 20 U.S. host institutions for international students were located in California, with the University of Southern California ranking second, just behind New York University. New York is the second leading host state, and New York City is the leading host metropolitan area."

Los Angeles came in second place among metro areas with the most international students. In California, USC had the most foreign students (13,340), followed by UCLA (11,516), UC San Diego (7,556), UC Berkeley (7,313) and UC Irvine (5,647), according to the report. The countries sending the most students to California were China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan.

The reports says foreign students spend a whopping $5.2 billion annually while in the Golden State.

USC reported that 14 percent of its fall freshman class was composed of international students. The attraction to the Golden State is often relatively low tuition and fees (especially at University of California schools) and high quality.

The Trojan school reports that its student body includes representatives of 56 countries. Rival UCLA reports that its freshman class saw foreign students from nearly 80 nations.

Evan Ryan, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs at the U.S. Department of State, said in a statement that these students represent the future of international relations — and could help present a better image of America to the world.

"International education ... creates networks across borders that improve international understanding and strengthen the national security of the United States," he said.

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