Seoul, which sent the largest number of students to the US (56,500) during this period spent the most, $2.1 billion. Beijing and Shanghai were second and third, followed by Mumbai, which forked out $655 million as most students flew to elite universities for their masters.
Interestingly, Hyderabad ranks fifth despite sending more students than Mumbai because the former spent a tad less at $645 million as many of its students signed up for non-ranked schools in the US which are comparatively cheaper.
The contrast between the students from the two Indian cities is reflected in the fact that while Mumbai, which sent 17,294 students, invested more in tuition, the southern city, which saw 26,220 fly out, spent more on living expenses, says the report titled "The geography of foreign students in US higher education: origins and destinations".
"I think they (Mumbai students) are different from students from Hyderabad since most of them are going to "top schools" in the US such as USC, Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Institute of Technology, Rochester Institute of Technology whereas students from Hyderabad are going to non- ranked, non-accredited, mostly for-profit schools or schools that were closed down because of fraud like Tri-Valley, University of Northern Virginia," said Neil Ruiz, Associate Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program at The Brookings Institution.
Clearly, the United States which hosts over 8 lakh international students or 21 per cent of all students studying abroad worldwide, is the market leader in international education even as several Asian nations are also now vying for the education pie.
Foreign students from middle, low- and upper middle-income cities accounted for 77 per cent of the total educational expenses from F-1 students studying for a bachelor's, masters' and doctoral degrees in US metropolitan areas, the report noted.
In all, 85 per cent of foreign students pursuing a bachelor's or a higher degree attended colleges and universities in 118 metro areas that collectively accounted for 73 per cent of US higher education students. They contributed approximately $21.8 billion in tuition and $12.8 billion in other spending —representing a major services export—to those metropolitan economies over the five-year period.
In the same time frame, Delhi which sent the largest proportion of students to the US for their bachelor's spent about $ 350mn. Most students went to top schools like Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University in the city of New York, Purdue University, University of Illinois and University of Southern California.
Bangalore, Chennai and Pune follow, with most candidates heading out for a master's degree. It is not clear if students paid the entire sum or got a free ride to college. "The values represent the "sticker price" of an education for each individual student on F-1 visa during the 2008-2012 period. It does not take into account any sponsorship/scholarship etc, since the data does not show that," said Ruiz.