USF World News

USF Becomes Florida’s Top University for International Students

New report on international student enrollment finds USF is a leader for global diversity

TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 16, 2021) -- As universities across the United States recognize International Education Week Nov. 15-19, the University of South Florida community can celebrate reaching a historic milestone in its global diversity. 

The annual report released by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education (IIE), known as the Open Doors® 2021 Report on International Educational Exchange, revealed that for the first time USF leads the state of Florida in international student enrollment. As of Fall 2020, USF enrolled 5,974 international students from more than 140 countries. The report ranks USF No. 19 nationally among public universities and No. 28 for both public and private universities.

“USF’s commitment to global engagement, with its diverse and robust representation of international students among the student body, is a point of pride for the USF community. We know that students benefit enormously from experiencing other cultures and perspectives,” USF President Rhea Law said. “International students expand the global diversity of USF’s campus culture, exposing students to different perspectives and cultures in the classroom and cocurricular activities and preparing them to be citizens in a globalized economy.”

Historically, international students are well represented in degree programs awarded in the natural sciences, STEM fields, accounting, finance, as well as health and life sciences. These students represent a source of talent that helps to attract and retain employers to the Tampa Bay region. As a metropolitan university, students at USF have access to a variety of internship, career and other professional opportunities afforded by campus locations in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota-Manatee. “I chose USF because the university is a place where diversity is celebrated and students receive an excellent education that prepares us for career success,” explained Fernanda Albanus, a USF student from Brazil.  “From the beginning, I was welcomed and supported. USF is a community that understands the importance of globalization to student success in the classroom and in the workforce.”

“Our international student enrollment is the product of an intentional, strategically guided effort to enhance the global experience of all students at USF,” said Ralph Wilcox, USF Provost and Executive Vice President.

International students are important contributors to Florida’s economic growth. A 2020 Economic Value Report by NAFSA, the Association of International Educators using Open Doors data, estimates that international students contribute more than $1.1 billion to Florida’s economy and support more than 11,000 jobs. International students studying at the USF Tampa campus contributed $116.5 million to the state’s economy and supported more than 1,340 jobs. NAFSA’s analysis also found that for every three international students, one U.S. job is created and sustained by spending occurring in the higher education, housing, dining, retail, transportation, telecommunications, and health insurance sectors.

The Open Doors report also identified USF as one of the top institutions in Florida for the number of students participating in credit-earning study abroad experiences, further reflective of USF’s commitment to providing a global education. More information on the report is available here.  Open Doors reporting has been an important benchmark for international education mobility for over 70 years.