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Study Abroad News

Source: The Pie Date: May 24, 2024

The number of international students in the US increased by over 10% in 2023 as compared with the previous year, reaching just below pre-pandemic levels.

India surpassed China as the US’s top source country for the first time in 2023, sending 27% more students than in 2022, where China only sent 2% more students than the previous year, according to Homeland Security data.

“Throughout the last two years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of international students … US colleges and universities have the capacity to accept more international students, and they are demonstrating they have the desire to do so, largely because of the value they bring,” IIE head of research, evaluation and learning Dr. Mrika Martel told The PIE.

“According to NAFSA, international students contributed over $40 billion to the US economy in 2023. Beyond the financial benefits, international students contribute to the diversity of U.S. campuses, and bring a wealth of diverse knowledge crucial to this country’s advancement,” added Martel.

The HSI’s 2023 student and exchange visitor program report analysed the total number of F-1 (academic) and M-1 (vocational) students from primary, secondary, higher and vocational education, as well as exchange visitors and dependants.

Students came from 238 different countries, with Asia accounting for 71% of the international student population.

The total number of F-1 and M-1 students was 1,503,649 in calendar year 2023, falling only slightly short of pre-pandemic figures of 1,523,758 in 2019.

As policies restricting international student inflows take hold in Canada, Australia and the UK, stakeholders have emphasised the opportunity for the US to grow its international student population.

All four regions in the US saw an increase in international students from 2022 to 2023, with the South seeing the greatest percentage increase of 13%.

Despite the West seeing the smallest percentage increase, California continued to host the most international students, attracting 16% of all F-1 and M-1 students, followed by New York and Texas.

The most popular majors were computer science, second language learning in languages other than English, and business administration and management.

The data is mostly in line with recent findings from Studyportals which highlighted the popularity of STEM and business programs among Indian students, attracted to the high earning potentials of careers in these industries.

Indian students made up almost 40% of international students participating in STEM subjects in 2023, with Chinese students accounting for 23%, according to the HSI.

New York University, Northeastern University and Columbia University were the top schools for international enrolment, all hosting more than 20,000 international students.

“Universities must incorporate internationalisation into diversity strategies, recruit in a broad range of international student markets, advocate for and support efforts to increase student visas, and consider financial support options for international students,” said Martel.


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