The annual 2017 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange released today shows a 3 percent drop in the number of international students attending USA colleges for the 2016-17 school year, with a potential 7 percent drop in 2017-18.
"It's definitely a wake-up call, but by no means is it a crisis, and it does not come anywhere close to the precipitous decline and plummeting of numbers that the entire sector had been predicting", said Rajika Bhandari, head of research, policy and practice for the non-profit group based in NY.
In 2014, IIE launched its Generation Study Abroad initiative to mobilise resources and commitments with the goal of doubling the number of U.S. students studying abroad by the end of the decade.
In New Delhi, Karl Adams, deputy cultural affairs officer at the U.S. embassy, said that though he would not speculate on the reason for the lower numbers, the 12.3% increase in the number of Indian students in the USA was certainly a great number and his country "welcomes" genuine Indian students.
While the number of students from Bangladesh was at its peak back in 2000-2001, at about 4,100, it had subsequently decreased for seven years, to as low as 2,300.
About 325,000 Americans studied overseas past year, while almost 1.1 million global students came to colleges here. Reasons include a mix of global and economic conditions, and in some cases expanded post-secondary education opportunities in their own countries, as well as declining populations in their home countries. The remaining 24 per cent said they saw no change.
The IIE president and CEO Allan E Goodman said countries and multinational employers around the world are competing to attract top talent. About a third of worldwide students in the USA hail from China, and almost 200,000 come from India.
He cited increased costs to attend US colleges; competition from schools in other countries, especially the U.K., Canada, Australia and Germany; visa delays or denials in visas; as well as the social and political climate in the USA may play a part in fewer enrollments.
The survey offers only a preview of this year's trends and was released alongside the institute's annual "Open Doors" report, which tracks worldwide students at 3,000 US schools but lags a year behind.
That downturn took place before the presidential election and can be blamed on factors including the rising cost of tuition in the USA, growing competition from schools in other countries, and political factors outside the United States, the institute's leaders said.
Indians registered an impressive double-digit growth of 12.3 per cent in the last one year to become the second largest group of global students in the United States after China, contributing USD 6.5 billion to the country's economy in 2016, a report said today.
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