International education is vital to strengthening economies and societies in the United States and around the world. More and more people and governments recognize its importance. This year we are excited to partner with schools, communities, and U.S. embassies around the world to celebrate the 13th annual International Education Week.
We kicked off the week with our International Virtual College Fair, the largest international virtual college fair in history with participation from almost 200 U.S colleges and universities from all 50 states. We paired them with our team of expert advisors from EducationUSA to help students around the world who want to come to the United States to study. It's been a huge success with over 21,000 attendees over a 24-hour period!
Yesterday, to launch International Education Week, we released the 2012 Open Doors report. It contains a wealth of good news and encouraging trends in international education. This year, we broke three key records.
• First, over 764,000 international students came to the United States -- up 6 percent from last year and a new record. International students' cultures, traditions, and diverse backgrounds enrich our classrooms and communities so it's vital that we continue to open our campuses.
• Second, 274,000 American students studied abroad, which is an increase from the year before. What's most exciting is that American students are going to more diverse destinations, outside the traditional Western European locations. These new connections and experiences are vital to help our American citizens in a 21st century workplace.
• Finally, higher education continues to be one of the United States' most important exports. This year, international students in all 50 states contributed $22.7 billion to the U.S. economy, making it a growth industry even in tough economic times.
International education creates strong, lasting relationships between the United States and emerging leaders worldwide. From climate change to food security, these future entrepreneurs, engineers, journalists, policymakers, scientists, and scholars will work together to solve shared global challenges.
Please enjoy the video we created in honor of International Education Week. We asked students around the world to share their pictures of where international education had taken them and saw how study abroad had expanded their world.
It's clear our doors must open both ways. The two-way flow of young people among countries creates not only new friendships, but also generates new perspectives. By increasing the number of international students coming to study here and the number of Americans going to study abroad, we amplify the positive influence the United States can have on the world -- and vice versa!