The number of students from Saudi Arabia studying in the United States jumped 30 percent, to 45,000. These students are largely funded by a Saudi government scholarship program nearly in its 10th year, the report said.
The top destinations for international students were the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Champaign, Ill., Purdue University in West Lafayette, New York University, and Columbia University in New York.
By contrast, 283,332 U.S. students studied abroad for academic credit — a 3 percent increase from a year earlier.
In the past 20 years, the number of U.S. students studying abroad has tripled. But less than 10 percent of American students study abroad during their college years. The United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France and China were the top destinations.
Attention tied to the Beijing Olympics and more classes taught in English are factors starting to drive more American students to China, Goodman said. A State Department program called 100,000 Strong, which officially started in 2010, aims to send 100,000 American students to China over a four-year period.
The report found that 14,887 Americans studied in China in 2011-2012 — a 2 percent increase, but that doesn't include students going to China for noncredit programs.
We encourage study abroad whether it's short term, long term, whether it's credit, noncredit," said Evan Ryan, a State Department official, on a conference call with reporters.