United States international students top 1 million

An increasing number of students are heading to the United States to gain practical, international experience that they can apply in their careers and life in a global society.

According to the 2016 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange data, the number of international students at US colleges and universities surpassed one million for the first time during the 2015-16 academic year. This is an increase of 7 per cent from the previous year.

According to the data, released by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in partnership with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, a total of 1,044,000 overseas students are studying in the US. This represents 5 per cent of the total student population at US institutions.

More than a third of these international students are studying engineering, maths or computer science, and 14 per cent are engaged in Optional Practical Training (OPT), including many in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) professions.

“We need to empower more of America’s future leaders to experience the world beyond our borders,” said Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State. “International education helps people develop the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in today’s global economy, and creates networks across borders that improve international understanding and strengthen the national security of the United States.”

“The Open Doors findings show that international students value the quality, diversity and strong reputation of US institutions and recognise that these institutions will give them opportunities that can help them not only in their education but also in their careers,” said IIE President Allan Goodman. “At the Institute of International Education, we believe American colleges and universities offer a premiere education and valuable training to students from around the globe and that students from other nations also teach us a lot about the world we share. The more we can open doors to other cultures for our students, the better off our country and our world will be.”

However, some experts are concerned that the outcome of last week’s election could see a decline in the number overseas students heading to the United States.

Philip Altbach, research professor and founding director of the Centre for International Higher Education at Boston College, said that President Trump’s promise to implement “extreme vetting” of Muslims and other immigrants to the United States will “deter some students from applying to US schools” and “make it more difficult” for those who do apply.

Professor Altbach added that it is “very likely” that Australia, Canada and other countries offering English-language degree programmes will benefit from the potential rise in prospective overseas students seeking other places to study.

Article published 14th November 2016