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International student ranks grow at Mich. colleges

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

The number of international students studying at Michigan colleges and universities increased 10 percent to nearly 30,000, placing the state ninth in the nation for hosting the most students from other countries in 2013-14, according to a report being unveiled Monday.

Michigan State University and the University of Michigan are among the top U.S. schools in the number of international students, ranking No. 9 and No. 11, respectively, according to the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange.

Like the rest of the nation, the leading places of origin for foreign students in Michigan are China, India and Saudi Arabia.

At the same time, the number of students from Michigan who are studying abroad grew 3 percent to 9,698 from 9,384 the year before.

The report by the Institute of International Education showed that the number of foreign students studying at American colleges and universities is at a record high, with 886,052 students contributing $27 billion to the economy in 2013.

The trend signals the growing importance of a global education in the 21st century, experts said.

"International education is for everyone," said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Evan Ryan. "It builds and sustains a more democratic, secure and prosperous world that benefits the American people and the international community by supporting strong economies in the U.S. and around the world."

MSU leads the state with the most international students — 7,704, up 14 percent from the previous year. The top three countries of international student origin are China, South Korea and India, though the university actively recruits in Brazil, Turkey, Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Elizabeth Matthews, assistant director of the MSU Office for International Students and Scholars, said international study should be part of any student's experience, and MSU prides itself on offering a diverse campus to students.

"It allows students to build international friendships and networks that go well beyond their time at MSU," Matthews said. "With the world becoming more globalized, whether students work after graduation here in the U.S. or elsewhere around the world, having the ability to communicate across cultures, and having experience with diversity, will help them in their careers."

At UM, international students totaled 7,273, up 7 percent from 6,827 the previous year.

"Global engagement is part of the fundamental mission of the University of Michigan," said Sandra K. Wiley, international engagement coordinator at the UM Stamps School of Art & Design and chair of the UM Council on Global Engagement. "We recognize that students need to be familiar with other places and different ways of approaching problems. ... It provides all the students with the wonderful opportunity to explore the world."