2015 Open Doors report


Open Doors report:
International students see VCU as a top choice in Virginia, study abroad grows

By: V. Renee Russell
Global Education Office
(804) 828-3636

RICHMOND, Va. (Nov. 18, 2015)— For the fifth year in a row, Virginia Commonwealth University is among the state’s top five institutions hosting international students, according to the 2015 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released Monday in Washington, D.C. by the Institute of International Education.

With 1,889 international students enrolled in the 2014/15 academic year, VCU is ranked 143rd among nearly 1,500 institutions surveyed. In addition, international students represent 4.8 percent of all students currently studying in the U.S.; VCU is ahead of this national percentage with 6 percent of its entire student body made up of international students.

In addition, VCU is one of Virginia’s top five doctorate-granting institutions in the number of students who study abroad, and has grown at a pace far greater than the national rate. During the 2013/14 academic year, by IIE criteria, 577 VCU students studied abroad, up from 471 (a 22.5 percent increase) in the previous year. Nationally, five percent more American students – a total of 304,467 – studied abroad for academic credit from their U.S. colleges and universities in 2013/14 as compared with the prior year.

“VCU is truly a global university,” said VCU President Michael Rao. “Our position as one of Virginia’s leaders in international student enrollment and study abroad reflects our commitment to providing students with opportunities for inquiry, discovery and innovation in a global environment and to welcoming students from around the world to find a home on our campus.”

VCU is led only by Virginia Tech, George Mason University, the University of Virginia and Northern Virginia Community College in Virginia institutions enrolling international students and by UVA, Tech, George Mason and the College of William and Mary in Virginia institutions sending students abroad.

“These latest rankings reflect VCU’s continued engagement worldwide,” said R. McKenna Brown, VCU Global Education Office executive director and senior international officer. “As VCU enters into new partnership agreements with leading academic institutions around the world, we are excited to increase opportunities for international students to become part of the VCU community and for students to enhance their education through study abroad.”

According to the report, there are currently 18,220 international students in the Commonwealth, an increase of 6.3 percent from last year, who contribute $543.7 million to Virginia’s economy. Nationally, international students contributed $30.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2014.

In total, the report finds the number of international students at U.S. colleges and universities had the highest rate of growth in 35 years, increasing by ten percent to a record high of 974,926 students in the 2014/15 academic year. This strong growth confirms that the United States remains the destination of choice in higher education.

“We are excited to see that record numbers of students are taking advantage of international education opportunities, and we applaud the efforts of U.S. higher education as we work together to increase the number of American students who study abroad,” said Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. “It is critical that we continue to make study abroad more accessible. These exchanges strengthen ties between the United States and countries around the world. By increasing accessibility to study abroad, we are investing in our future and providing a forum to solve global challenges.”

VCU also participates in IIE’s Generation Study Abroad, a national campaign to double the number of students who study abroad by the end of the decade.  In addition to significantly expanding study abroad numbers, the campaign will also encourage and track campus activities that expand diversity in race and ethnicity, academic disciplines, destinations, and gender of those who study abroad.


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