Pennsylvania is near the front of national trend of increasing numbers of international students attending higher education institutions. In 2011/2012 the Institute of International Education (IIE) found the number of foreign students studying in the US increased by 6% over the previous academic year, for a total of nearly 765,000 from more than 200 countries. Pennsylvania experienced an increase of 10%, with Penn State University leading the way with 6,075 international students. Rajika Bhandari, deputy vice president of research at IIE said the increase can be partly attributed to greater outreach efforts by US schools, and to the schools' reputation.
"Especially when it comes to science and technology and the opportunities for research. Also, I think because the American education sector offers such a variety and range of institutions, from community colleges to prestigious doctorate and research institutions," explained Bhandari.
She said the growing number of international students on American campuses benefits all students, noting that foreign students enrich the classroom.
"(They) really bring an important cultural experience into the classroom - especially for those of their American peers who might never be able to study abroad themselves."
They also have a big economic impact. The US Department of Commerce estimates that international students bring in $22.7 billion to the US economy.
As more American universities open satellite campuses abroad, Bhandari said she is not worried they will cut into the number of students opting to study in the US.
"There's always the student, who, no matter what, will want to come and want to physically be on an American campus."
She said the current estimate of students who are studying in foreign countries is close to four million.
In Pittsburgh 4,049 international students attend Carnegie Mellon University, and 2,810 at the University of Pittsburgh.