The share of international students coming to the United States has been declining steadily since the year 2000.

Classroom-ChairsAlthough the United States is still the favored destination for students who want to study abroad, the share of international students coming to the country has been declining steadily since the year 2000, according to a study released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Ten years ago, when some 1.8 million students were enrolled in universities outside their home countries, 26 percent of them were in the United States. The total number studying abroad has risen steadily, from 2.6 million in 2005 to 3.3 million in 2008, the last year for which figures are available. But over that same time period the U.S. market share of international students has shrunk to 18.7 percent. Britain, Germany and France, the second, third and fourth most popular countries for study abroad, have also experienced declines in popularity, but none as steep as the United States.

Andreas Schleicher, an official in the O.E.C.D.’s education directorate, said that although the tightening of student visa requirements after the September 11, 2001, attacks may have led some students to avoid the United States, “it was only a small component.” The high cost of tuition and the relatively high cost of living were seen as more significant factors. The study also pointed to the fact that Australia, Canada and New Zealand, three countries that have been increasingly successful in attracting foreign students, have recently “eased their immigration policies” to encourage student applicants.

At the same time the European Union’s Bologna process has set a target of sending 20 percent of all graduating students for study abroad by the year 2020.

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Source: International Herald Tribune | The New York Times