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International Student Numbers in U.S. Decline

April 23, 2019

The total number of international students studying in the U.S. at all levels declined by 2.7 percent from March 2018 to this March, according to quarterly data on student visa holders recently published by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A total of 1,169,464 international students were studying in the U.S. this spring compared to 1,201,871 the spring before. The data include students studying at all levels, from K-12 to language study to higher education, and include students who have already completed their programs and stay in the U.S. to work for one to three years after graduating through the optional practical training program.

The new student visa numbers follow on data from the annual Open Doors survey showing two years of declines in new enrollments of international students at U.S. universities. The ICE data show a 2 percent year-to-year decline in the total number of international students from the leading sending country, China, and a 1.2 percent decline in the number from the second-leading sending country, India. The number from No. 3 country South Korea fell by 7.6 percent. The number of students from Saudi Arabia continued to fall sharply, by 17.1 percent year over year, a change largely attributable to reductions in the Saudi government’s scholarship program.

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Elizabeth Redden

Elizabeth Redden, Senior Reporter, covers general higher education topics, religion and higher education, and international higher education for Inside Higher Ed. She has more than a decade of experience as an education journalist. She holds an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing from Columbia University.

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