The problems afflicting the U.S. economy haven't dampened the desire of foreigners to study in America. The Institute of International Education reports that the number of foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities hit a new high of 407,530 in the 1990-91 academic year. That's 31% more than in 1980-81 and well over five times the num-ber of U.S. college students overseas.
For much of the student invasion, you can credit the lure of the free enterprise system, U.S.-style, and the excellence of U.S. higher education in the sciences. Business and management was the most popular field of study, followed by engineering, math and computer sciences, and physical and life sciences.
The growing overseas contingent in American colleges is making its mark on the trade balance. In 1986, foreign students spent $3.3 billion more in the U.S. than American students spent overseas. In 1990, the education "export" surplus hit $4.3 billion, and so far this year, it is running at a $4.7 billion annual rate.