fbpx
Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF
Help shape the future of international education at the ICEF Monitor Global Summit London, September 23rd 2024
25th Jan 2023

US foreign enrolment once again exceeds one million students

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • As of January 2023, international student numbers in the US have nearly reached pre-pandemic levels
  • Sitting alongside that overall recovery, however, are some notable shifts in sending markets and a clear pattern of a more diversified enrolment base for the world’s leading study destination

During the pandemic, international students numbers in the US dipped below the one-million student mark (as of fall 2020) for the first time since 2014. However, new data from the Department of Homeland Security's Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) shows that the number of active visa holders has recovered this year to almost match pre-pandemic enrolments.

SEVIS reports that as of January 2023 there are 1.08 million international students with active study visas in the US. This compares to a total of 1.14 million in January 2020, just before the onset of the pandemic (a -5.4% decrease overall).

Along with the overall rebound in student numbers this year, SEVIS is also reporting some notable shifts in sending markets.

China has long been the driver of enrolment growth in the US. But, as we see in the table below, the number of Chinese student with active visas has declined from 368,800 in January 2020 to 262,992 as of January 2023 (a nearly -29% decrease). The number of Indian students, meanwhile, has surged from 194,556 to 253,631 over the same period for overall growth of just over 30%.

The table outlines the top ten sending markets for the US as of January 2020, and compares that same country set to enrolment levels for January 2023. The overall picture if of a shift from China to India as the growth driver (even as China remains the largest source market overall), alongside a more subtle shift to a more diversified enrolment base.

At the start of 2020, those top ten sending markets accounted for nearly 71% of all foreign students in the US. By January 2023, however, their combined share had fallen to just under 67%. Growth this year is distributed, albeit in smaller measures, across a wider field of sending markets with Bangladesh (+75%; 16,115 students as of January 2023), Nigeria (+22%; 19,478 students), and Colombia (+35%; 15,774 students) among the notable gainers over that period.

That shift to a more diversified enrolment base becomes even more notable when we consider that seven of the top ten sending markets outlined in the table declined from 2020 to 2023, with only three of the ten showing growth.

For additional background, please see:

Most Recent

  • Australia moves to curtail onshore “visa hopping” Read More
  • ICEF Podcast: The outlook for international education in the USA – live from NAFSA Read More
  • Canada’s Immigration Minister signals that changes are coming to post-study work rights Read More

Most Popular

  • Comparing student visa proof of funds requirements across 20 study destinations Read More
  • Canada: More provincial cap numbers announced; IRCC moves up end date for post-graduate work for partnership programmes Read More
  • Lessons from Denmark: The downside of limiting international student flows Read More

Because you found this article interesting

Australia moves to curtail onshore “visa hopping” Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil announced today the next phase of implementation in the package of...
Read more
ICEF Podcast: The outlook for international education in the USA – live from NAFSA Listen in as ICEF’s Craig Riggs and Martijn van de Veen recap some recent industry news, including an...
Read more
Canada’s Immigration Minister signals that changes are coming to post-study work rights For more than 15 years now, international students have been able to come to Canada, complete any type...
Read more
IDP investor guidance warns of market downturn through 2025 IDP Education is one the largest service providers in international education. As a publicly traded company on the...
Read more
Number of English-taught degree programmes rises by 22% from 2021 to 2024 A new report from British Council and Studyportals, “Mapping English-taught Programmes Worldwide,” reveals that in 2024, there are...
Read more
US launches new market diversification dashboard Given the need for new and better ways to collect and interpret data on international student movement, we...
Read more
US ELT sector continues a gradual recovery Intensive English programmes (IEPs) in the United States are reporting more modest growth for 2023, after a post-pandemic...
Read more
Market snapshot: A guide to international student recruitment in Brazil FAST FACTS Capital: Brasília Population: 218 million (2024) Youth population: 44% below the age of 30 Median age:...
Read more
What are you looking for?
Quick Links