November 16, 2010

Jefferson City - The number of international students studying in Missouri grew by more than 18 percent, to 13,360 for the 2009-10 academic year, according to a report issued yesterday by the Institute of International Education.

The growth rate in Missouri far surpassed the national trend, which rose only three percent, and it more than doubled from previous years, which averaged about seven percent. The report ranks Missouri 16th in the nation in the ability to attract international students -- up from 17th last year.

Interim Commissioner of Higher Education David Russell attributes the growth in Missouri to collaboration in marketing the state abroad.

"A consortium of institutions interested in expanding their international enrollment came together to form Study Missouri in time for a conference on international education held in Kansas City last June, providing excellent exposure for Missouri," Russell said. "In addition, Study Missouri brought together the departments of higher education and economic development and the U.S. Department of Commerce to share resources and collaborate on initiatives."

The number of Missouri students studying abroad also grew, but by a more modest 2.6 percent increase. Nationally, however, the number of American students going abroad to study declined for the first time in 25 years.

The upsurge in international education in Missouri helps the state's economic bottom line. Expenditures by foreign students in Missouri this year are estimated to be almost $336 million, up from $270 million a year ago.

The top destinations for international students in Missouri are the University of Missouri-Columbia, Washington University, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Missouri State University and Missouri University of Science and Technology.

The top sending countries are China (26.8 percent), India (15.3 percent), South Korea (8.4 percent), Saudi Arabia (4 percent) and Taiwan (3.4 percent).

"The new numbers show that Missouri is a major player in the knowledge economy," Russell said. "Students from other countries are eager to experience the strong academic programs, affordable tuition and friendly atmosphere of Missouri institutions."

International students will come together at the Missouri Capitol to celebrate International Education Day Feb. 16, 2011.