MUMBAI: Intensifying the disruption of a long established trend, India saw about 19% increase in students on US campuses to 1.99 lakh in the post-pandemic phase while China saw a drop. India’s upward trajectory was sustained in fall 2022 (August-September), the snapshot Open Doors survey of a limited number of institutions showed.
Indians in American graduate programmes, which account for the largest slice of desis in the US, crossed the 1 lakh-mark, up 48% from the previous year to touch 1,02,024. The US now has 27,545 Indians at the undergraduate level, 68,188 pursuing OPT (optional practical training), and 1,425 doing non-degree courses. Indian students contributed $5.9 billion to the US economy through expenses.
“The report emphasises that despite the complexity and uncertainty that accompany pandemics, international educational exchanges continue. Investment in international exchange remains the best way for institutions and countries to connect people and ideas around the world,” said Allan Goodman, CEO of Institute of International Education. India’s increase is pronounced in the graduate, undergraduate and non-degree numbers, with a smaller drop of 7.4% in the OPT population.
While India, Canada, Mexico, and Nigeria sent pre-pandemic levels of international students to the US, China and India represented the majority (52%) of all such students. China remained the topper, with 2.9 lakh students on US campuses (-9% year-on-year). Twelve of the top 25 places of origin increased the number of international students enrolled in the US by double digits in 2021-22.
The survey, which saw participation from over 630 institutions, reported higher education institutions recording a 7% rise in new international students enrolling for the first time at a US institution for in-person classes or online from abroad, a continued increase following the massive 80% rebound in new enrolments in 2021-22. A total of 63% of institutions saw an increase in new international student enrolment, 12% indicated the number to be the same as last year, and 24% saw a decrease. According to the US department of commerce, international students contributed $32 billion to the US economy in 2021.
This year, math and computer science pipped engineering, but the lion’s share of international students in the US continued to pursue majors in STEM fields (engineering, math and computer science, physical and life sciences, health professions, and agriculture) in 2021-22. In the 2020-21 academic year, the pandemic significantly affected the movement of students from the US to other countries. This is reflected in the total number of US students studying abroad for academic credit, declining by 91% to 14,549 students. Merely 16 Americans flew into India for academic programmes.