Indian students 2nd largest in US; contribute $6.5 billion

Indians registered an impressive double-digit growth of 12.3 per cent in the last one year to become the second largest group of international students in the US after China, contributing $6.5 billion to the country's economy in 2016, a report said on Monday. In the 2016-17 academic year, 186,267 students from India were studying in the US, said the annual Open Doors report of the Institute of International Education (IIE).

India is the second leading place of origin for students coming to the US, comprising 17.3 per cent of the total international students in the US, it said. China had a total of 350,755 students, registering an increase of 6.8 per cent.

The majority of Indian students in the US study at the graduate level, the report said, adding in 2016-17, their breakdown was: 11.8 per cent undergraduate; 56.3 per cent graduate; 1.2 per cent other; and 30.7 per cent OPT (optional practical training).
Last year, Indian students in US colleges and universities contributed $6.54 billion to the US economy, the report said, citing a Department of Commerce figures.

According to the 2017 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange data released by the IIE and the Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the number of foreign students in the US increased by 3 per cent over the prior year, and the number of American students studying abroad increased by 4 per cent from the prior year.

In 2016-17, for the second consecutive year, foreign students in US colleges and universities, reached a record high of 1.08 million.

Notably, the number of new foreign students -- those enrolled at a US institution for the first time in fall 2016 -- declined 3 per cent from the previous year to about 291,000. This is the first time that these numbers have declined in the six years since Open Doors has reported enrolments.

“International student exchange is an essential contributor to America’s economic competitiveness and national security,” said Alyson L Grunder, deputy assistant secretary of state for policy in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

“The US higher education sector remains the global leader in welcoming students from around the world, and at the same time, we are committed to increasing opportunities to study abroad for Americans,” Grunder said.

The IIE president and CEO Allan E Goodman said countries and multinational employers around the world are competing to attract top talent. “As more countries become active hosts of international students and implement national strategies to attract them, the competition for top global talent in higher education and the workforce will only intensify,” he said.

As students are attracted to the high quality and diverse opportunities offered by US universities, he said it was critical for US institutions to set strategic goals and be proactive in reaching out to students in the coming year, and for the US to keep its academic doors open to students from all over the world.

The top places of origin for foreign  students in the US were China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, Mexico and Brazil.

The top host states were California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. Foreign  students in each of these states increases in 2016-17.

The top host destinations for US students studying abroad in 2015/16 were the UK, Italy, Spain, France and Germany. The number of American students in India dropped from 4,438 to 4,181 with India ranking 15.

According to the report, institutions express concerns about recruiting students from the Middle East and North Africa (76 per cent) likely due to adjustments in the Saudi Arabian government’s scholarship programme and potential concerns about travel restrictions to the US.

Recruiting concerns were also reported for: Asia/excluding China and India (73 per cent), China (71 per cent), and India (68 per cent).

With two-thirds of all foreign  students in the US from Asia, apprehensions are likely related to the fact that any shifts in student interest would significantly impact overall enrolment, it said. “Institutions reported they are continuing to prioritise foreign student outreach and recruitment in Asia, particularly China (67 per cent), Vietnam (51 per cent), and India (48 per cent),” the report said.