Many U.S. colleges reported drops in applications from international students for this coming fall, but for this past spring, at least, international student numbers continued to grow, increasing 1.7 percent, from 1.16 million in May 2016 to 1.18 million in May 2017, according to new data on F and M student visas from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The overall increase in international students comes despite a 19 percent drop in the number of students from Saudi Arabia, the fourth-leading country of origin for international students in the U.S. after China, India and South Korea. Many colleges have reported declines in numbers of Saudi students that they attribute primarily to changes in the government’s large-scale foreign scholarship program.
Other notable changes include increases in enrollment of students from Vietnam (up 6 percent), South America (up 6.5 percent), India (up 7 percent), and Nepal (up 18 percent). The number of students from South Korea fell by 7 percent.
The student visa data encompass students at all levels, including high school students and students enrolled in vocational programs. About three-quarters of all international students on F and M visas -- 76 percent -- are enrolled in bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral programs.