Archive for the ‘Education’ Category


Back-to-School Means More International Trade in Education

September 10, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog

Student in University Classroom

Student in University Classroom

Guest blog post by John Siegmund, International Trade Specialist, International Trade Administration

As the summer comes to an end, millions of students are returning to campuses all over the country.  A good portion of these students are coming from abroad. Did you know that the tuition and living expenses of foreign students make up an important services export?  In 2013 the total came to $27 billion in U.S. exports, roughly twice the amount of a decade ago.  The total number of international students has also grown steadily.

The Department of Commerce recently released the Top Markets Report on Education.  The report highlights market dynamics, trends and key challenges to studying in the United States.

About 886,000 foreign students were studying at colleges and universities in the United States in 2013/14. The top five sending countries that year were; China (274,000 students), India (101,000 students), South Korea (68,000 students), Saudi Arabia (54,000 students), and Canada (28,000 students).

The report also projects future export opportunities based on research and trends. The eight markets that offer potentially the best opportunities to increase foreign enrollments in the years ahead are Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam.  Selection of these key markets, described in the report’s methodology, is based on the number of students from a given country studying in the United States, the total number studying abroad, and historical growth rates of students studying in the United States.

Enrollment of international students is important to U.S. institutions, but they face competitive challenges, notably (1) growing competition from other English-language countries primarily the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia; (2) competition from English-language programs in countries where English is not the language of the country; and (3) the perception of difficulties and delays in getting U.S. student visas.

The report also offers reasons that students choose to study abroad.  Demographics, economics, secondary school completion rates, tuition costs, household income, and employer needs all play a role.  The most popular fields of study include business and management, and the STEM fields.

Although the United States is the largest destination country for international students, the U.S. percentage share of international students has eroded over the past decade. The number of international students worldwide has increased faster than has the number of international students coming to the United States. I would encourage you to take a look at the Top Markets Report on Education to learn more about this surprising industry!


Study in the States, Inshallah

June 19, 2014

Doug Barry of ITA’s Global Knowledge Center and Senior Commercial Officer Dao Le of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait produced the “Study in the States” video series.

Faris al-Obaid is one Kuwaiti citizen featured in the video series who enjoyed his experience as a student in the United States.

Faris al-Obaid is one Kuwaiti citizen who enjoyed his experience as a student in the United States. You can see his story, and the story of other citizens, courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait.

Every year thousands of international students travel to America to pursue degrees at our world-class colleges and universities. In fact, educating international students represents a huge chunk of our annual service exports.

Not only do students gain valuable experience studying abroad, but they often return to the United States after graduating and bring family members and friends who help stimulate the travel and tourism industry. So, it’s no wonder then that the U.S. government works hard to recruit more students, especially because there is a lot of competition from countries that are also popular destinations for students, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.

To remain competitive, the Departments of State and Commerce teamed up with the embassy in Kuwait City to produce short video spots aimed at Kuwaiti high school students to highlight the benefits of studying abroad in America.

The videos address some common beliefs Kuwaitis have when they think about studying abroad – commonly that the process of applying for a visa is overly burdensome or that it’s difficult to fit in in the United States. The spots are designed to assure young students that these beliefs are untrue.

The videos feature Kuwaiti citizens who graduated from U.S. schools, and now enjoy rewarding careers, which they attribute to their time studying in the United States.

The first group of videos includes speakers such as a senior advisor to the Kuwait government, the regional sales manager for Microsoft, and a high school English language teacher. Some key points they discuss are that:

  • The visa application process is not discriminatory.
  • There are important deadlines the applicants need to adhere by.
  • Americans are welcoming to foreign students and universities are accepting to the different culture these students bring with them. For example, often colleges offer prayer rooms and halal food for Muslim students
  • Studying abroad in America is extremely important in creating an independent, creative, and self-assured student.

Through this program, we hope that international students will feel more comfortable applying to American study abroad programs and at the end of the day be better prepared for their quest to “Study in the States, Inshallah (if God wills it).”



College Looks South for Students

May 11, 2014

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Moshtayeen Ahmad recently completed an internship in the International Trade Administration’s Office for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy.

Like many other American higher education institutions, Michigan-based College for Creative Studies (CCS) has an important corps of foreign students contributing to the school’s cultural and educational experience.

Those international students are also making an important contribution to the American economy.

When a student comes to the United States from overseas to study, it is a service export. Foreign students accounted for $24.7 billion of U.S. exports in 2013.

At CCS, international students represent 6 percent of the student body and come from 17 different countries.

In an effort to recruit more qualified students from overseas, the International Trade Administration’s Michigan Export Assistant Center helped the College sign an agreement with Universidad de Monterrey in Mexico to foster both student and faculty exchanges between the schools.

This exchange supports more than just increased exports; it also supports cultural exchange between students of the United States and Mexico. These exchanges help further develop our overall relationship with other nations.

Thanks to their positive experience with this initial agreement, CCS has scheduled two additional Gold Key matchmaking services to find new potential partners in Mexico, and intends to recruit students from additional international markets.

Helping American exporters find new partners in Latin America is what the Department of Commerce’s Look South campaign is all about!

We want to help U.S. businesses, as well as colleges and universities, that are already exporting to Mexico to use their experience as a springboard to pursue other markets in the Latin American region.  The markets featured in the Look South campaign all have growing middle classes which increasingly desire high-quality American goods, including an American education.

Universities or educational institutions interested in developing partnerships or recruiting students from the region can find support from the International Trade Administration and our partner institutions.  Start by visiting to learn more about the available resources and consider the many opportunities ahead.


March Madness Earns an A in Economics

March 24, 2014

Chris Higginbotham is a Public Affairs Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.

This infographic from the International Institute of Education shows that more than 819,000 international students studied in the United States in 2013.

Institute of International Education. (2013). Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. Retrieved from

If you’re anything like me, you spent the weekend locked in front of the television, watching the NCAA Tournament. Hearts were broken (including mine), underdogs were victorious, and former champions were sent packing.

Perhaps the best part of it all is that we were supporting the U.S. economy the entire time!

Maybe you didn’t realize it, but the NCAA Tournament, one of the pinnacle sporting and cultural events in the United States, is a tremendous supporter of several export industries.

One obvious industry the Tournament supports is education. The athletes competing in this event are students representing some of America’s great universities.

The education industry is a huge part of the American economy, supporting jobs and fostering research and innovation.

Education is also a major service export. The United States has some of the world’s best universities, hosting hundreds of thousands of foreign students. Those students pay tuition and living expenses, including room and board, transportation, books, and health insurance. Since most of those expenditures come from sources outside the United States, they are considered exports.

Commerce data show that international students contributed a record $24.7 billion to the U.S. economy, part of a record $682 billion in services exports.

The NAFSA Association of International Educators says that education exports support 313,000 jobs in the United States, a 6.2 percent increase from 2012 and a crucial contributor to our economic growth.

Here are some more key highlights about education exports from the Institute of International Education:

·         A record 819,644 international students studied in the United States in 2012-2013;

·         The top two fields of study for international students are business and engineering;

·         The University of Southern California hosts the most foreign students, at 9,840.

Outside of the classroom, you’ll also see some international students competing on the basketball court.

The standout is Kansas University’s Andrew Wiggins, the Canadian player who was a top basketball recruit last year. There’s also NC State’s Jordan Vandenberg from Australia, UCLA’s Sooren Derboghosian from Iran, and Notre Dame’s Natalie Achonwa from Canada, among others.

As NAFSA points out, the benefits of international students studying in the United States last a lot longer than the road to the Final Four. Foreign students bring unique perspectives into American classrooms, broadening horizons for everyone involved. The relationships formed and cultural exchanges made help build bridges across borders.

So just remember the next time you watch a game, even if your team loses, you’re helping the U.S. economy win!

For more information about the education industry and how the International Trade Administration supports it, check out our updates on the ITA blog.


Leading 29 Colleges and Universities to Southeast Asia

November 18, 2013

Melissa Branzburg is an International Trade Specialist at the Export Assistance Center in Boston, Mass.

John McGinnis of Birmingham Southern College speaks to high school students in Kuala Lumpur during a Department of Commerce education trade mission in Southeast Asia.

John McGinnis of Birmingham Southern College speaks to high school students in Kuala Lumpur during a Department of Commerce education trade mission in Southeast Asia.

I had the chance to recruit and bring representatives from 29 higher education institutions to Southeast Asia in October, along with my teammate David Edmiston from Minneapolis. This was the fifth education-focused trade mission led by the U.S. Department of Commerce in the last three years.

Missions like these help support a key U.S. export sector. Education exports in 2012 totaled nearly $23 billion. A recent study shows a record number of students are now studying in the United States, so that number could grow even higher in 2013.

This particular mission was by far one of the best projects of my Commerce career. Our goal was to help U.S. schools recruit students from these countries to study here. The delegation included a wide variety of institutions, from the largest state universities to small liberal arts schools and community colleges. It was definitely a showcase of all that America’s higher education system has to offer!

We surpassed our attendance goals for the mission, more than doubling the number of students coming to meet these school representatives than we had expected. Also, part of the program included sessions with the State Department’s EducationUSA advisors and the foreign ministries of education to help us better understand the students. To give the students a leg up, the consular sections held seminars on the ins and outs of getting that ever-important American visa.

But beyond the programming, it was a chance to help amazing students explore their choices that made the experience truly unforgettable.

Carolyn Lanier at Western Connecticut State University later said to us:

“I just wanted to let you know how great the education trade mission to Manila and KL was! Thank you for organizing such a well thought-out trip. We had an amazing time! We learned so much about not only international education programs, but also about our university and what we need to do to offer competitive programs that will be of interest to students in the Philippines and Malaysia. Your efforts in this endeavor were (and continue to be) greatly appreciated!”

Our embassies and consulates around the world are celebrating International Education Week. Our trade mission was just a small part of all that is going on to support international students finding their way to the United States.

Best of luck to all the students we met with on this mission. I hope to see many of you studying here soon!


Can Next-Generation Education Have an Effect on U.S. Education Exports?

September 27, 2013

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Stella Mach recently completed an internship in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Service Industries. She studied Economics and Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia.  

Education is a huge American service industry, and a major contributor to U.S. exports. Foreign students studying in the United States accounted for nearly $23 billion of U.S. exports in 2012.

The International Trade Administration (ITA) works closely with the education industry to support these exports and continue to draw foreign students to the United States. While supporting traditional models of education, ITA is also closely watching the industry evolve and is paying close attention to new avenues of education.

One trend we are watching closely is the proliferation of massive open online courses (MOOCs).

Bill Gates, whose foundation has been heavily involved in education, said in July that he sees MOOCs as “a global phenomenon.” They have added an interesting new dimension to education, allowing classes to reach across the globe to students around the world.

In less than two years, MOOCs have attracted millions of students from around the globe and partnered with dozens of top-ranking schools worldwide.

It’s interesting to note that 72 percent of the student body at Coursera, one company getting involved in MOOCs, comes from outside the United States. Further, 42 percent of these foreign students come from countries outside of Europe and BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

So, the growth of these courses could result in a measurable increase in U.S. education exports, and could increase exports to non-traditional markets.

ITA is closely monitoring this new industry as MOOCs continue to evolve. Our team of education services specialists regularly partners with the education industry, leading trade missions and partnering with education organizations. We’re excited to see how this new education service will affect the industry and support new U.S. exports.

To learn more about MOOCs and ITA’s efforts to increase U.S. education exports, visit our website, or contact Education Services Specialist John Siegmund. Whether or not MOOCs will indeed be the next “global phenomenon,” stay tuned with ITA to find out!


Commerce-Supported Student Recruitment Group Opens Office in Vietnam

May 8, 2013

John Siegmund is an International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Services.

The VETEC team talked about its mission at the Association of International Educators.

The VETEC team talked about its mission at the Association of International Educators conference.

United States colleges and universities are one step closer to garnering a bigger share of the education market for Vietnamese students with the official recognition of the Vietnamese Education Training and Export Center (VETEC).

The initiative is part of a Market Development Cooperator Program award (MDCP) between the International Trade Administration (ITA) and the California Education and Training Export Center.

VETEC offers a broad variety of services to Vietnamese students and U.S. colleges and universities, all with the goal of increasing the number of Vietnamese studying in the United States. VETEC operates an office in Vietnam, which ITA supported with an MDCP award of $388,000 in 2011.

“Vietnam has been among the fastest growing source countries for overseas study in the United States during the past four years,” says VETEC Director Mark Matsumoto. “It has the potential to become one of the three most significant export markets in the world for U.S. education and training service exports within the next 10 years.”

VETEC is ideally located to help both U.S. institutions of higher learning and Vietnamese students. The office will open up new and effective ways to promote the benefits offered by U.S. colleges and universities to Vietnamese students and their families.

“VETEC was designed to provide U.S. schools an on-the-ground resource in Vietnam to actively engage students and parents in Vietnam,” added Matsumoto.

Education comprises a large portion of American exports in the service industry. In 2012, education accounted for nearly $23 billion in U.S. exports.

In 2011-2012, more than 15,000 students from Vietnam enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities, making the United States the eighth-largest host market for Vietnamese students. Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) reported that as of December 2012, 106,000 Vietnamese students were studying abroad.

VETEC will offer the following services:

  • Year-round promotion of U.S. educational opportunities in Vietnam
  • High-impact advertising campaigns and promotions
  • On-site student advising and counseling
  • Facilitation of institutional contacts and exchange
  • Translation and interpretation support
  • Coordination of in-country logistics and meeting schedules
  • Other services as needs arise

For more information go to and


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