International students in U.S. increase, study abroad numbers reach record high

International students at institutions of higher education in the United States increased by 7.2 percent to a record number in the 2012-13 academic year, according to an international exchange report.

The report, supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, also showed that the number of U.S. students studying abroad expanded to an all-time high of 283,332 in 2011-12.

Florida A&M’s office of institutional research said the number of international students at FAMU has increased each year since 2010.

Brazilian students showed the third-greatest growth behind Chinese and Saudi Arabian students, with 20.4 percent, according to the report. The increase was largely due to Brazil’s Scientific Mobility Undergraduate program, which funds a year of studies, primarily in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Anna Villele, a junior agriculture student from Paraná, Brazil, said she has enjoyed her stay in the U.S.

“I love here,” Villele said. “I have a lot of friends here, and the professors are very helpful as well.”

Villele chose the U.S. because Brazil has a similar agriculture. She said she promises she will return home for her master’s degree.

Karen Mitchell, FAMU educational abroad coordinator in the office of international education and development, said students who plan on studying abroad should begin the process sooner than later.

“If you plan on studying abroad, you need to do so a semester and a half or two semesters in advance,” Mitchell said.

Erica Patten, a senior accounting student from Chicago, recently returned to

the U.S. from studying Brazilian economy in Brazil.

“The opportunity was amazing,” Patten said. “I got to meet people from France, Africa, Germany and Columbia.”

Mitchell said at least 10 to 15 students inquire about studying abroad every day. Of those students, he said, seven to 10 will actually go through with the application process. There are roughly 17 to 20 students involved each semester.

“You must have a 2.5 GPA, a valid passport and your academic adviser must approve your courses,” Mitchell said. “That’s it.”

International students studying in America has quadrupled from 71,000 students in 1991, the report said. And although international students make up fewer than four percent of U.S. college and university populations, their spending has boosted the economy by $24,000.