North Carolina's colleges and universities saw an increase of nearly 9 percent in the number of foreign students coming to study in the last academic year, an annual census of international students in the U.S. reported Monday.
International enrollment grew to more than 15,000, according to the nonprofit Institute of International Education, which worked with the State Department on its analysis of both public and private schools.
North Carolina State University leads with nearly 4,000 foreign students. Next is Duke University and its medical center, followed by University of North Carolina campuses in Chapel Hill, Charlotte and Greensboro. None is in the top 20 U.S. universities attended by foreign students, by total number of enrollees. The University of Southern California led the country with more than 9,800 international students.
Most of the foreign students in North Carolina come from China, followed by India, South Korea and Saudi Arabia, according to the report.
About 4 percent of the 21 million students in U.S. higher education are from abroad, the census found. About two-thirds of the nearly 820,000 students who came to the United States to study in the 2012-13 school year pay their education costs themselves or through their families, according to the institute and the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
"The careers of all of our students will be global ones, in which they will need to function effectively in multi-national teams," institute president Allan E. Goodman said in a statement. "International students coming to study in the U.S. benefit from access to some of the finest professors and research laboratories in the world, and Americans benefit substantially from the presence of international students who bring their own unique perspectives and knowledge to the classroom and the wider community."
The number of U.S. students studying abroad has tripled in the past two decades to 283,332 in 2011/12, a 3 percent increase over the previous year, the report said. But less than 10 percent of American college students study abroad, with the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France and China their top destinations.