According to a report released today, the U.S. remains the premier destination for international students, but as expected, overall student numbers fell during the pandemic. The Institute of International Education’s (IIE) Open Doors, released November 15, reports a total of 914,095 international students studied at American universities in the 2020/21 academic year.
That number represents a 15 per cent decline from the previous year, but still brought $39 billion to the U.S. economy, which supported 306,308 American jobs, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The overall student number represents undergraduate, graduate, and on-line enrollments, plus students engaged in Optional Practical Training (OPT). International students represent 5 per cent of all enrollments in American institutions.
According to Karin Fischer, who covers international education for the Chronicle of Higher Education, the 20/21 numbers represent the largest percentage decline in international enrollments in the 72 years IIE has published Open Doors.
Ms. Fischer reports that current year numbers are rebounding. She notes that U.S. institutions and higher ed associations report increasing enrollments, and that student visa issuance numbers are up.
Open Doors confirms that China remains the largest source of international students in the U.S., with 317,299 enrollments. Other top sending countries include India (167,582), Republic of Korea (39,491), and Canada (25,143).
Other major sending countries, per Open Doors:
- Vietnam (21,631)
- Saudi Arabia 21,933
- Brazil 14,000
- Mexico 12, 986
- Iran 9,614
- Turkey 8,109
- U.K. 8,048
- Colombia 7,107
- Kuwait 6,846
- France 5,643
- Germany 5,364
- Italy 4,894
- Russia 4,802
- Egypt 3,672
More information on Open Doors can be found at www.iie.org, and at opendoorsdata.org
Ms. Fischer’s informative blog on international education, Latitudes, is free.
Michael McCarry served for 21 years as Executive Director of the Alliance for International Exchange, an association of U.S. exchange sponsors. Earlier, as a USIA Foreign Service Officer, he served overseas in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Beijing, and in Washington as staff director of the Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs. He currently serves as Senior Advisor to Cenet, a Missouri-based exchange sponsor, and as a trustee of the EF Foundation.