Exchange Students

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EXCHANGE STUDENTS. Colonial Americans (particularly those studying medicine) studied in Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, and Sweden. During the early years of the Republic, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Noah Webster—along with the Georgia and Virginia legislatures—opposed study abroad, but young Americans enrolled in European universities for medical and graduate studies nonetheless. These American exchange students and their nineteenth-century successors brought back not only German doctorates, but also German ideas for raising the standards of higher education and promoting academic freedom. Among this group were men who became influential university presidents: Henry P. Tappan (Michigan), Charles W. Eliot (Harvard), Daniel C. Gilman (Johns Hopkins), Andrew D. White (Cornell), Granville S. Hall (Clark), and Nicholas Murray Butler (Columbia). During the twentieth century, attendance by Americans in European universities increased greatly under the stimulation of the Rhodes scholarships and the Fulbright (later Fulbright-Hays) exchange program enacted by Congress in 1946.

Foreign study in American institutions began with the enrollment of Francisco Miranda, the future liberator of Venezuela, at Yale (1784). Yung Wing from China studied at Yale in the 1850s, and Jo Niishiwa from Japan at Amherst in the 1860s. In 1904, 2, 673 men and women from seventy-four countries were enrolled in American higher institutions. The Boxer Indemnity Fund, established by the American government in 1908 to generate income to be used to educate Chinese youths, brought many Chinese to American universities. With the emergence of the United States on the international scene, foreign enrollment rose to 6, 901 (1921) and to a high of 7, 343 (1937) prior to World War II. Under the Fulbright and the Fulbright-Hays (1961) Acts, the number of foreign students in the United States increased sharply. In 1958, 47, 245 students from 131 countries were in American institutions; 1972 saw 140, 126 students from 175 countries enrolled in 1, 650 institutions. In 1980, 311, 880 foreign students studied in the United States. In 1990, that number had risen to 407, 530, and, in 1999, it had risen again to 514, 723. In 1972, most students came from (in descending order) India, Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Iran, Thailand, Korea, and the United Kingdom. By 1980, that distribution had changed dramatically, with most students coming from (in descending order) Iran, Taiwan, Nigeria, Canada, Japan, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Hong Kong. By 1999, the distribution had shifted again, with most students coming from (in descending order) China, Japan, India, Korea, Taiwan, Canada, Indonesia, Thailand, and Mexico.


Barber, Elinor, Philip G. Altbach, and Robert G. Myers, eds. Bridges to Knowledge: Foreign Students in Comparative Perspective. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984.

Blumenthal, Peggy, ed. Academic Mobility in a Changing World: Regional and Global Trends. Bristol, Pa.: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1996.

Dudden, Arthur P., and Russell R. Dynes, eds. The Fulbright Experience, 1946–1986: Encounters and Transformations. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1987.

Johnson, Walter, and Francis J. Colligan. The Fulbright Program: A History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965.

Kraske, Gary. Missionaries of the Book: The American Library Profession and the Origins of United States Cultural Diplomacy. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1985.

William W.Brickman/f. b.

See alsoEducation ; Education, Higher: Colleges and Universities ; Fulbright Act and Grants ; Indemnities ; Multiculturalism .