US hosts record high 1.08 million international students

Higher education institutions in the US hosted a record-breaking 1.08 million international students in 2016/17, according to a new Open Doors report. This marks the second consecutive year of the US hosting 1 million + international students – but a decline in new enrolments was also revealed.

According to the report published by the US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the new findings signal a slowing of growth, with an overall increase of just 3% compared to increases of 7-to-10% for the previous three years.

India is a hugely important country for US educators with the largest growth recorded in students from India: for the third year in a row. India and China now represent approximately 50% of the total enrolment of international students in the US.

The top places of origin for international students studying in the US were China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil.

Factors driving the decline in new enrolments were reported to include a mix of global and local economic conditions and expanded higher education opportunities in students’ home countries.

In 2016, the US Department of Commerce reported that international students brought $39 billion to the US economy through their spending on tuition, board and living expenses.

In addition, international students’ roles on campus as teaching and research assistants support the faculty in many departments, particularly in STEM fields and their diverse perspectives help enrich classroom learning for US students.

Commenting on the reasons behind the decline in new enrolments, expert said, that “the cost of education in the US is now rising to such levels that people are beginning to look for alternative places. It’s all about global competition; what other countries are doing and whether that is more attractive to students when compared the cost of US education. The fact is that students can complete shorter degrees in Europe – which is a consideration for many in terms of cost saving – and there are now more opportunities in student’s home countries as well.”