COVID-19 has dramatically reduced the participation of international students in U.S. colleges and universities, punctuating three years of declining enrollment linked to costs, immigration barriers and perceived chaos in American society.
In the school year that began three months ago, new enrollments of international students fell 43% due to COVID-19. Almost 40,000 students – most of them freshmen – have postponed enrollment at 90% of US institutions to a future term.
The data was compiled and reported by the Institute for International Education and published in its annual Open Doors report on International Students in the U.S. It is funded by the U.S. Department of State, which issues visas to students and visitors participating in school or vocational training.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the enrollment of international students,” the IIE report said. “Many international students studying at American institutions have taken advantage of the opportunities to begin their studies remotely.”
Of the more than one million international students enrolled in the United States, 20% have turned to online learning this semester due to the COVID-19 campus closure. While some international students have returned to their home countries, others live off campus or under strict guidelines on campus.
COVID-19 emerged at the dawn of 2020, when most college students were on winter vacation for Christmas and New Years. Students returned from points around the world to their US campuses, but weekly March break, COVID-19 had become a pandemic and schools were struggling to keep their populations safe. Most campuses have sent students home, closed their doors, and moved online education.
Students and families have refused to pay the high cost of tuition and fees, which can reach $ 70,000 per year for an undergraduate degree in the United States, and 56% of international students pay out of pocket for their studies in the United States. Many have called for refunds and reductions for lack of restaurants and housing, where universities derive most of their student income.
The most recent data on enrollment for the semester that began this fall comes from IIE’s Fall Snapshot, which brings together data from over 700 schools and is conducted by IIE and nine education partner associations. superior. Open Doors data for the previous school year from August / September 2019 to May 2020 covers a larger sample of 2,900 establishments.
There were 1,075,496 international students in the United States, down almost 2% from 1,095,299 the year before. China and India again accounted for more than half of the total. China sent 372,532 students to study in the United States, while India sent 193,124.
While Chinese students rose 0.8% in US schools, India sent 4.4% fewer students to the United States compared to the previous year.
In higher schools, the number of Chinese students increased by 3%. Those taking optional practical training (OPT) increased by 2%. OPT allows students to work in their field of study, typically science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). More than half of all international students have pursued studies in STEM.
Of the top 25 countries to send students to the United States, 18 posted declines from last year. After China and India, students came to the United States from South Korea (-4.7%), Saudi Arabia (-16.5%), Canada (-0.5%) , Vietnam (-2.5%), Taiwan (1.5%), Japan (- 3%), Brazil (3.8%), Mexico (-5.8%), Nigeria (2.5%) ), Nepal (-3.8%), Iran (-5.7%), United Kingdom (-3.5%), Turkey (-6.7%), Germany (0.6%), Bangladesh ( 7.1%), France (-2.8%), Kuwait (-8.9%), Indonesia (-0.7%), Spain (9.5%), Pakistan (-0.2%), Colombia (-3.4%), Malaysia (-10.4%), Venezuela (-11.7%.)
International students represent 5.5% of the 19,720,000 students enrolled in US higher education.
In last year’s Open Door report, institutions pointed to some of the reasons for declining enrollment, including the high cost of tuition at U.S. colleges and universities, difficulty obtaining visas, or insecurity of the country. maintaining a student visa throughout a student’s training, students feeling a lack of welcome in the United States, negative political rhetoric, and information about crime in the United States
This year, NAFSA: Association of International Educators found that the drop in international enrollments for 2019-2020 cost U.S. colleges and universities $ 1.8 billion, down 4.4% from the previous year (38.7 billions of dollars).
It was the first time the dollar amount that international students contributed to U.S. colleges and universities had declined in 20 years, NAFSA said.
“As economic value declines, we are reminded of the immense contributions that international students make to America. We cannot afford to lose these talents to a competing country, ”said Esther D. Brimmer, Executive Director and CEO of NAFSA.
“Our policymakers and lawmakers must reaffirm America’s commitment to international students and scholars, because our universities and colleges have never stopped doing it, and neither have our competitor countries,” she added. .
The main host states saw a decline in student numbers (total student numbers and percentage change): California (160,592, -0.7%), New York (126,911, 2.1%), Texas (77,097, -5.9%), Massachusetts (73,695, 3.7%), Illinois (51,966, -3.3%), Pennsylvania (50,070, -3.4%), Florida (46,221, 0.6% ), Ohio (35,508, -4.8%), Michigan (31,408, -5.5%) and Indiana (28,136, -3.3%).
While Northeastern University in Boston advanced and the University of Southern California fell one rank this year, the top universities otherwise remained New York University (21093), Northeastern University in Boston (17491), University of Southern California (17309), Columbia University (17.145), University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign (13.962), Arizona State University (13.136), University of California-Los Angeles (11.447), University of California-San Diego (11.272), Purdue University in Indiana (11.173), Boston University (11158), University of California-Berkeley (10695), Pennsylvania State University (9244), University of Washington (9236), University of Michigan (9000), University of Texas (8787), University of California-Irvine (8773), Carnegie Mellon University of Pittsburgh (8,694), University of California-Davis (7,919), University Ohio State (7,894) and Cornell University of New York (7,623).
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