China is emerging as one of the most preferred destinations for American students seeking to study outside the home country. The most recent Open Doors report - a reputed annual  report published by the leading non-profit educational and cultural exchange organization in the United States, the Institute for International Education (IIE) - reveals that the Asian economic giant saw a 4% increase in the number of students from US who studied in the country for credit during the academic year 2008-09.

Although the rate has declined from the 19% increase seen during the previous year (2007/08), China's attraction remains noteworthy, given that the rise came in a year when the overall number of students from the US who studied abroad showed a marginal decline and even the top host destinations had fewer students than in the year before.

Additionally, as a follow up study to determine whether these international trends are continuing, IIE conducted a fall 2010 online survey of U.S. campuses in cooperation with the Forum on Education Abroad. The survey indicates that study abroad numbers are beginning to rebound, particularly to China.

The four European countries of UK, Italy, Spain and France remained the top destinations in 2008-09 terms of absolute numbers, followed by China, but each of the four registered a decline in the number of students - by 6, 11, 4 and 3% respectively.

China's booming economy and flourishing job market have been the driving factors that make it such an attractive learning hub for students across the world, especially those eager to taste a share of the success of emerging nations. According to a report in China Daily, students from the U.S. presently comprise the second largest body of international students in that country (after South Korea).

Education officials say that U.S. students may well become the largest overseas student group soon with Beijing working actively with counterparts in Washington D.C. to implement a 4-year education program, announced by none other than President Hu Jintao and his US counterpart Barack Obama, during the latter's visit to China in 2009. The program aims to bring 100,000 Americans to study in the country over the next four years.