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Washington state top among states attracting international students

SEATTLE — Washington state is among the top states attracting international students to its colleges, according to new data released Monday by the Institute of International Education.

The number of international students studying in Washington state has grown by 11 percent between the 2011-12 school year and the 2012-13 school year.

About 25,500 international students studied in Washington state during the 2012-13 school year, making up 7 percent of the state’s college population, The Seattle Times reported.

Only three other states—Massachusetts, New York and Delaware—plus the District of Columbia drew a higher percentage of its college population from overseas.

The largest number of international students is studying at the University of Washington. Washington State University comes in second, followed by Seattle Central College, Green River Community College in Auburn and Edmonds Community College.

In recent years, as state financing for higher education has decreased, Washington’s universities and community colleges have welcomed international students, in part, as a boost to their budgets because they pay as much as three times the tuition that in-state students pay.

“A lot of people say they’re crowding out local students, but most often this isn’t the case,” said Peggy Blumenthal, senior counselor to the IIE’s president, Allan Goodman. Rather, “universities are using international enrollments to keep their budgets whole.”

Her organization would like to see more Washington students studying abroad for part of their education. But money may be a problem going the other way.

Not only is education overseas more expensive, but students who work during the school year will miss out on that income when they are in another country, said Jeffrey Riedinger, vice provost of global affairs for the UW. About 20 percent of UW students study abroad at some point in their undergraduate careers. About 2,000 UW students went abroad in the 2012-13 school year.

Blumenthal said studies show students who study abroad are more likely to graduate on time, and in terms of their careers, “there’s just no question kids today are going to be graduating into a global marketplace,” she said. Students who study abroad “learn how to navigate in a totally different climate.”

Among all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Washington ranks 11th for the raw number of international students studying here. That rank has not changed in several years because the overall number of international students studying in the U.S. has grown so much nationwide—by 72 percent since 2000.

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