Open Doors Report: Vietnam is Sixth Leading Source of Foreign Students in the United States

Media Release

HANOI, November 15, 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 today, finds that there were 21,403 students from Vietnam, making it the 6th leading country of origin among international students in the United States, moving up from 9th in 2015. With an increase of 14.3% compared to 2015, Vietnam continues to make steady growth over more than a decade.

Also, 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 significant growth of Vietnamese students attending university in the United States shows the power and importance of people-to-people ties. These students serve as cultural ambassadors – helping Americans better understand the Vietnamese people. And, when they return to Vietnam, they help people better understand the United States. Also, these students are able to use their knowledge gained in the United States to build a more prosperous Vietnam,” said U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius.

Students from Vietnam in the United States study primarily at the undergraduate level, with 15.1 percent at the graduate level in 2015-16, 67.2 percent enrolled at the undergraduate level, 7.8 percent pursuing optional practical training, and 9.9 percent in non-degree programs such as English language or short-term studies.

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. 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 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. “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.

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.

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