International students studying in the U.S. grew by 10 percent last year, the largest single-year gain in more than three decades.
The number of Americans who studied abroad grew by only half that rate, and a not-for-profit that promotes international education said a national campaign is underway to increase these numbers.
"The aim is to try to double the number of Americans going abroad for academic credit between now and the end of this decade," said Allan Goodman, president and CEO of the Institute of International Education.
In an interview with WBFO, Goodman said the Generation Study Abroad initiative involves hundreds of educational institutions and other organizations.
"It's really our moonshot, because we think having 300,000 Americans out of 20 million studying abroad is much too small a number and doesn't prepare our kids for being global citizens," he said.
Data released this week by the institute indicates that nearly 975,000 international students attended U.S. colleges and universities during the 2014/2015 academic year. India, China and Brazil account for most of the growth. According to figures compiled by the U.S. Department of Commerce, international students' spending in all 50 states contributed more than $30 billion to the American economy.
Does Goodman have concerns that the terrorist attacks in France might discourage many students from studying abroad? He said such incidents can actually have the opposite effect.
"After 9/11, we saw increases in Americans wanting to [study abroad], because they wanted to understand what was happening in another part of the world," he said. "And I think you'll see the same in response to Paris."