The number of students from Saudi Arabia in the U.S. on student visas fell by 19.9 percent from November 2015 to November 2016, according to new data on student visas from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Many U.S. universities and intensive English programs have reported declines in admissions and enrollments of new students from Saudi Arabia -- a key country in many institutions' international recruiting efforts -- that they have attributed to changes in that country’s government scholarship program.
The data on student visas, released quarterly by the U.S. government, are distinct from annual survey data on international enrollments compiled by the Institute of International Education. Despite the drop in the number of Saudi students, the Homeland Security data show that the overall number of international students on F or M visas -- for academic or vocational study -- increased 2.9 percent from November 2015 to November 2016, to an all-time high of 1.23 million. An additional 198,217 foreign nationals are in the U.S. on J-1 exchange visas, a decrease of 1.8 percent from last fall. A breakdown of some country-by-country trends for Asia, the top region of origin for international students in the U.S., is below.