- There are currently 948,519 international students enrolled in US universities or colleges. This is a 4% increase from the 914,095 students in the country during the 2020/21 academic year.
- In contrast to the previous year, when only nearly half of international students were physically present in classrooms, 90% of them registered in face-to-face classes in the United States during the 2021/22 academic year.
- A total of 199,182 Indian students are currently enrolled in universities across the United States, representing a year-over-year increase of 18.9 percent.
‘Road to recovery’ would be an excellent phrase to describe the state of international education in the United States in 2023. As time passes, the global world is gradually recovering from the stagnation caused by the pandemic and rising above the disruption.
In the recent Open Doors 2022 Annual Data Release by the US Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and the Institute of International Education, experts presented several significant data that hint at an optimistic comeback for US international education in 2023.
The US remains the top study destination
Experts and international education leaders were ecstatic to see that the United States maintained its global reputation as the top study destination for international students thanks to the country’s sustained excellence in college and university systems, which has laid the groundwork for a wide range of innovations that provide students with industry-specific, future-proof skills.
International students are returning to the country at a steady rate, as evidenced by the latest data. The total number of international students studying in the United States for the 2020–21 academic year was 914,095, a significant 15% drop from the previous year due to the pandemic. However, the following year showed encouraging signs of recovery, with records hitting 948,519 international students at US higher education institutions, an increase of 4% from the previous academic year.
Returning to pre-pandemic levels in numbers
Aside from the positive outlook on the total number of international students in the country, there has been a remarkable uptick in international student mobility. The survey found that the number of international students enrolling in a US college or university for the first time increased by 80% from the previous year, reaching 261,961 in 2021/22. This number was similar to what it was before the global epidemic.
The primary source market in the United States is another indicator of a robust recovery. The survey found that nearly half of the top 25 countries of origin had an increase in the number of international students enrolling in the country in the 2021/22 academic year, bringing the total number of international students back up to pre-pandemic levels. The number of Indian students studying in the United States rose by 18.9% over the previous academic year, reaching a total of 199,182. Increases were recorded in Canada (7.4%), Mexico (11.7%), and Nigeria (12.3%).
And when it comes to the mode of learning, the annual report found that 90% of international students enrolled in face-to-face classes on US campuses during the 2021/22 academic year. This represents a major gain compared to the previous academic year, in which fewer than half of the total number of international students were physically present on campus.
International graduate students surpassing pre-pandemic numbers
And lastly, there has been impressive growth in the number of international graduate students. It has not merely recovered to the pre-pandemic numbers; they have increased. The data showed that there were 385,097 international graduate students, a 17 percent increase from the previous year. This number was higher than the number of international undergraduate students for the first time in ten years.
If the trends hold up, we will be seeing a more vibrant international education scene in the U.S. this year. Hopefully, all other major study destinations follow suit. And based on published reports, it seems a truly possible scenario, but that’s a story for another day. (SUNEETHA QURESHI)
Suneetha has worked for 15 years in the international education sector and 25 years overall for her work for other industries. As president of MSM, she fortifies its business development outreach globally, particularly in the face of MSM’s foray into edtech-based recruitment via MSM Unify. She preserves the premium, value-adding services provided to each MSM partner institute, including dedicated teams on the ground, agent management, lead generation and inquiry management, application prescreening, and student and parent support through pioneering pre-departure briefing sessions.
She has an impeccable track record of successfully launching the representative offices in Asia and Africa of many North American and European higher education institutions. Her key strengths include hiring, training, and developing teams as evidenced by the successful results of the dedicated in-country college and university client teams.
Suneetha also has taken the lead in developing several initiatives at MSM, including building robust standard operating procedures, the Rise ‘n Shine team engagement platform, and the organization’s data analytics and audit segments.