Millions of students are traveling to other countries for educational purpose, in dramatic proportions. China sent more students to America than any other country in 2011– 157,588 of them, for an amazing increase of 23% from 2010. The number of Chinese foreign students around the world rose from 179,000 in 2008 to 284,000 in 2010. Most of the Chinese students studying abroad are now self-funded by their parents, a 180-degree shift from just a few years ago. This reflects the dramatic growth of China’s middle class.
The top five countries sending students to study in the US in 2011 were China, India, South Korea, Canada, and Taiwan. Number six was Saudi Arabia, which saw an astonishing 44% jump in one year! Meanwhile, Indians studying in the US declined 1%, reflecting a general trend among Indian nationals who are choosing to return to a more robust economy in their home country. This figure shows just how fluid Migration is these days, with a constantly shifting, back-and-forth flow of people based on countries’ changing economies. To that point, while 20% of the world’s international students are studying in the United States, in 2001 that figure was 28%. This reflects an emerging proliferation of educational hubs in other countries around the world, and also the struggling US economy.
There are many ministries to international students, but one on which I’m especially bullish is International Students Incorporated. ISI’s workers have been coming alongside international students for years, helping them with transportation, apartment-hunting, home-cooked meals and friendship. They’ve exposed their intrigued foreign guests to various aspects of American life, including church and faith communities when appropriate. In this way the foreign students, even as they’re so focused on rigorous academics, are also finding nourishing friendships and spiritual growth.