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A new report shows international students are increasingly picking the Beehive State to get their American education.
It's not just Utah, though. The Institute of International Education reports foreign enrollment in U.S. schools from the 2007-2008 academic year is up 7 percent nationwide. It's up 5.5 percent in Utah. Commissioner of Higher Education Bill Sederburg says, in part, that's because of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He says, "I was president at Utah valley University, and a good share of those international students were members of the LDS Church in different countries and kind of liked the idea of going to a university in Utah."
That possibly explains why international enrollment remains strong at the University of Utah, Utah Valley University, Utah State University, and even Salt Lake Community College. The director of the University of Utah's International Center, Bill Barnhart, says the trend is likely to continue with enrollment this fall at the University of Utah up 5.7 percent among international students.
Brigham Young University has the strongest international enrollment with almost 2,500 of the state's 6,460 international students.
Money is also a strong reason for the increase. The dollar is weak against foreign currencies, but students can stretch those dollars even further in Utah, especially if they go to BYU which extends lower tuition rates to members of the LDS Church. But even outside of BYU, Utah schools are a good buy.
Sederburg says, "If you look at the out-of-state tuition here, it's about, maybe around $12,000, $13,000 a year for an international student. Out east, it would be $25,000 a year."
California has the highest enrollment of international students. Sederburg says that makes sense. He says, "All of the western states have had just historically lower tuition than they have out east and in the Midwest. And so, right now, I think some of the international students are benefiting by that history."
Some other findings:
- India, China and South Korea sent the most students to the U.S. in the last academic year
- Slightly more of the students are in graduate programs than undergraduate programs
- The University of Southern California is the U.S. institution hosting the most foreign students
- California is the state with the most foreign students. (Utah ranks 27th on the list
- The top field of study for international students is business and management, followed closely by engineering
- Enrollment was up 7 percent overall nationwide, but new enrollments were even stronger at about 10 percent