Number of international students at US colleges increases after steep drop – The Hill

A glance at the story


  • International student enrollment at US colleges and universities appears to be recovering after taking a hit in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • A new survey by the Institute of International Education and the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs found that international student enrollment increased by 8 percent last year compared to the year before.

  • A second, much smaller survey shows that number is still growing.

International student enrollment at US colleges and universities has rebounded last year after falling sharply during the pandemic, according to a new survey released Monday.

948,519 international students from more than 200 countries studied at a college or university in the United States last year, representing a 4 percent increase over the previous year, according to the “Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange” from the Institute of International Education and the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

More than 90 percent of international students returned for in-person classes during their time in the US, the survey found.

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The survey makers estimated the number of international students enrolled in college and university and those enrolled in optional practical training programs.

“We are very pleased to see the number of international students rising, and to see the United States lead the world as a top choice destination for international students,” said Lee Satterfield, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational Affairs and Culture, in a. statement.

Welcoming international students to US campuses is at the “heart of people-to-people diplomacy,” Satterfield said in the statement, adding that attracting top talent to US foreign policy is also a “core” the country.

International student enrollment also has an immediate economic role. According to the US Department of Commerce, international students contributed $32 billion to the US economy in 2021.

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The survey shows huge spikes in the number of international students from Germany, Spain and France who came to study in the United States last year.

During the 2020-21 academic year, there were just over 5,360 German students studying in the United States. That survey jumped to over 8,500 the following year.

The number of Spanish students increased from 5,781 to 8,165. French students enrolled in a US college or university increased from 5,643 to 7,751 during that same period.

But the survey also shows major reductions in the number of foreign students from Saudi Arabia, China and Kuwait.

China represents the largest group of international students in the United States with more than 30 percent of all foreign students studying in the US, according to the survey.

Between the 2020-21 to 2021-22 academic years, the number of international students from China decreased by more than 8 percent, going from 317,299 to 290,086.

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There were nearly 22,000 international students from Saudi Arabia in the United States during the 2020-21 academic year. That number sank 17 percent to about 18,200 the following academic year, according to the survey.

Similarly, the number of Kuwaiti students studying in the US during that same period decreased by over 13 percent from 6,846 to 5,923.

Change America reached out to IIE for comments on why the number of international students from these three countries has declined.

A second, much smaller survey conducted this fall of just over 630 schools shows that international student enrollment continues to increase. In the “Fall Lapshot” survey, the IIE and the US State Department found that international student enrollment at those colleges and universities has increased by 9 percent so far this academic year.



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