China sends most international students to US high schools

China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-21 05:30

China sends most international students to US high schools

Chinese students in US school [Photo by Zhang Chenlin/Xinhua]

Students from China continue to lead the growth of international enrollment at US high schools, according to a new study, and most are seeking a diploma to help them get into American colleges and universities.

Around two in five international students enrolled in American high schools came from China and the total number of students from China rose by 48 percent between 2013 and 2016, according to the report compiled by the Institute of International Education (IIE), a nonprofit organization.

Although this represents just 0.5 percent of the more than 15.5 million secondary students in the US, the number has risen by 12 percent since 2013, and has more than tripled since 2004, according to the study released earlier this month.

There were almost 82,000 international students enrolled in US high schools in fall 2016, the report said, and the number of high schools enrolling international students increased to 2,800 in 2016 from, 2,300 in 2013.

A growing proportion are seeking a high school diploma. Research shows that the number on an exchange program has fallen slightly since 2013, but over the same period 22 percent more international students have enrolled on a visa allowing them to study for the diploma.

A majority of international secondary students pursuing US diplomas — 78 percent — come from Asian countries on an F-1 visa, the report said. Nearly three in five international students on F-1s are from China, mostly at private high schools, and many of them come from middle class or wealthy families, according to the Bhandari and the report.

That visa is granted to students enrolled in programs that confer degrees, diplomas, or certificates on the elementary, high school or college level. They are also given for study at language training programs.

"What we're really seeing is sort of a continued interest on the part of Chinese students to aim for a US credential, except that we're now seeing that interest play out at a younger age," Rajika Bhandari, director of the IIE Center for Academic Mobility Research & Impact, told NBC News.

Bhandari said that there is insufficient causal data to show what positive impact studying at an American high school may have on the future of international secondary students, but she said there are many benefits.

"Students are really using the opportunity to be able to come to the US earlier to really refine their English-language skills, to become acquainted with US academic and social culture, well before they actually arrive on the US college campus," she said.

The states which have the most international secondary students enrolling for the high school diploma are California, New York and Massachusetts, while for exchange program students the 1-2-3 are Michigan, Texas and California.

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