Facing year after year of higher education budget cuts, college campuses in Missouri, Illinois and around the nation are increasingly opening their doors to international students to help balance their books.
And with unrelenting Chinese demand for college degrees, there appears to be no shortage of students eager to travel to the U.S. for an education.
A report released Monday shows the number of international students on the nation’s campuses increased 5.7 percent during the 2011-12 academic year, hitting a record high of nearly 765,000 students. One in four is from China, according to the Open Doors study, by the Institute of International Education.
Schools and education experts are quick to point out the advantages of diverse campuses that expose U.S. students to new ideas and cultures. But they also acknowledge the financial realities of modern higher education funding.
“Economics definitely play a role. It’s a fact of life,” said David Currey, the assistant director of the international center at the University of Missouri-Columbia. “But MU has always had a strong desire to internationalize.”
With nearly 2,200 international students, Mizzou posted the state’s largest population of international students during the 2011-12 academic year. Five years earlier, the school had 1,651.