Open Doors Report Shows Trends in Student Mobility between Liberia and the United States

International student enrollment in the U.S. tops one million for the first time Students from Liberia increased by 22% to 205 total number in the 2015-16 school year

November 18, 2016 – An increasing number of students are crossing the globe to gain practical, international experience that they can apply in their careers and life in a global society. The 2016 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released on November 14, finds that the number of international students at U.S. colleges and universities surpassed one million for the first time during the 2015-16 academic year—an increase of seven percent from the previous year to a new high of nearly 1,044,000 students.  Although this represents just five percent of the total student population at U.S. institutions, this strong growth confirms that the United States remains the destination of choice in higher education. The United States hosts more of the world’s 4.5 million globally mobile college and university students than any other country in the world, more than double the number hosted by the United Kingdom, the second leading host country. In 2015-16, there were nearly 69,000 more international students in U.S. higher education compared to the previous year. The Open Doors® report is published annually by the Institute of International Education in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The new report indicates there were 205 students from Liberia. Due to this trend the number of Liberians students in the United States is expected to rise when the next Fast Fact Report is published.

While China remains by far the top country of origin of international students in the U.S., increasing by 8 percent to 328,547, India’s growth again outpaced China’s, with students from India increasing by 25 percent to a record high of 165,918. In 2015-16, China and India together accounted for 84 percent of the total increase in international students, and they now constitute nearly 47 percent of the total number of international students in U.S. higher education.

Open Doors also reports that more than 313,000 U.S. students received credit last year for study abroad during 2014-15, an increase of nearly three percent over the previous year. The number of U.S. students going to Liberia to study for academic credit at their home university in the United States decreased by -95 percent. Liberia used to be an attractive hub for American students studying in abroad but since after the country’s tragic civil war there has been a drastic reduction in the number of American students studying in Liberia.

The release of the new Open Doors data marks the celebration of International Education Week, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from other countries to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States.

At U. S. Embassy Monrovia, we celebrated International Education Week in a special way. On Monday we began with a reflection of the history of International Education Week. 54 students participated in the discussion. On Wednesday November 16, 65 students participated in a speaker series with focus on study in the U. S. with a speaker from USAID. This event ended with a raffle drawing for EducationUSA. On Thursday November 17, the EducationUSA adviser hosted a group advising session for more than 60 students. During this event students had the opportunity to review how EducationUSA services have impacted their lives and provided suggestions on how to improve on the available services at the advising center.

“We need to empower more of America’s future leaders to experience the world beyond our borders,” said Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. “International education helps people develop the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in today’s global economy, and creates networks across borders that improve international understanding and strengthen the national security of the United States.”

“The Open Doors findings show that international students value the quality, diversity and strong reputation of U.S. institutions and recognize that these institutions will give them opportunities that can help them not only in their education but also in their careers,” said IIE President Allan Goodman.  “At the Institute of International Education, we believe American colleges and universities offer a premiere education and valuable training to students from around the globe and that students from other nations also teach us a lot about the world we share. The more we can open doors to other cultures for our students, the better off our country and our world will be.”

There are now 85 percent more international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities than were reported a decade ago, and this marks the tenth consecutive year that Open Doors reported expansion in the total number of international students in U.S. higher education. International students now constitute just over five percent of the more than 20 million students enrolled in U.S. higher education, up from around four percent in previous years. This increase is due to both the growing numbers of international students and the declining number of American students enrolled in U.S. higher education.

For more data, infographics and resources on the 2016 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, visit Open-Doors.

Open Doors is published by the Institute of International Education, an independent not-for-profit organization with a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,400 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. IIE has conducted an annual statistical survey of the international students in the United States since its founding in 1919 and in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs since 1972. Open Doors also reports on the number of international scholars at U.S. universities; international students enrolled in pre-academic Intensive English Programs; and on U.S. students studying abroad. Further details on the Open Doors 2016 surveys and their findings is on the Open Doors website, and the full 100+ page report will be available in January and can be ordered from IIE Books.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State builds relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through academic, cultural, sports, professional and private sector exchanges, as well as public-private partnerships and mentoring programs. Approximately 50,000 participants annually embark on these exchange programs, including the flagship Fulbright Program and the International Visitor Leadership Program. ECA also sponsors the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarships for U.S. undergraduates with financial need, the Critical Language Scholarship Program in support of U.S. foreign language study abroad, and the EducationUSA network of over 400 advising centers worldwide, which provides information to students around the globe who wish to study in the United States. For more information on the Department of State’s educational and cultural exchange activities, visit or contact