WASHINGTON (AP) — International students attended U.S. universities in increasing numbers last year, recovering from a pandemic-related slump thanks to a 35% increase in students from India, according to a study released Monday.

Overall, the number of international students in the U.S. rose 12% in the 2022-23 academic year, the largest single-year increase in more than 40 years, according to findings from the State Department and the nonprofit Institute of International Education. More than 1 million students came from abroad, the most since the 2019/20 school year.

“This underscores that the United States has remained the destination of choice for international students seeking to study abroad for more than a century,” said Allan E. Goodman, CEO of the Institute of International Education.

American colleges enrolled nearly 269,000 students from India, more than ever before and only from China. Most came for graduate courses, often in science, technology and business.

“The United States has a close relationship with India in education, which I believe will become even closer and closer,” said Marianne Craven, acting assistant secretary of state for academic exchange at the State Department.

China still had the largest number of foreign students in the U.S. at 290,000, but the number fell for the third straight year.

It reflects a gradual change. After years of booming demand from China, interest has waned due to cool international relations and increasing competition from universities in the United Kingdom and Canada. Officials behind the new study also blame ongoing travel restrictions in Asia during the pandemic.

At the same time, U.S. universities have focused on recruiting in India, hoping to tap a growing population that the United Nations predicted will overtake China as the world’s largest this year. In 24 US states, including Illinois, Texas and Michigan, which are among the top destinations for international students, students from India now outnumber those from China.

For the second year in a row, America’s graduate programs were the top attraction for international students, the study said. Graduate enrollments increased 21% while undergraduate enrollment increased 1%. This reverses a trend from the previous decade, when the number of students increased.

Much of last year’s growth came from math and computer science programs, which attracted more students than any other major and saw a 20% increase in enrollment compared to the previous year. Engineering and business followed behind. Combined, these three areas account for more than half of all international students in the United States.

The increase brings international student numbers nearly back to pre-pandemic peaks, peaking at nearly 1.1 million students in 2018. Enrollments fell precipitously in the following two years as COVID-19 stifled academic exchanges.

The recovery appears to be continuing, with international enrollment up 8% this fall, according to a smaller survey designed to provide an overview of recent trends.

Overall, international students made up just 5.6% of all college students in 2022-23, but they play an outsized role in U.S. higher education. University leaders say they are important for global exchanges and also important for revenue — international students are typically charged higher tuition, effectively subsidizing college for U.S. students.

After China and India, the countries that sent the most students to the United States were South Korea, Canada, Vietnam, Taiwan and Nigeria. Last school year, a record number of students came from Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana, India, Italy, Nepal, Pakistan and Spain.

While more and more students are coming from abroad, many universities are having difficulty attracting students from within the country. According to a separate study from the National Student Clearinghouse, total enrollment at all colleges remained declining as the pandemic receded, and freshman enrollment fell 3.6% in fall 2023.


The Associated Press education team receives support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Source : apnews.com

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