Indian Students Flock to US Campuses in Historic Numbers, Breaking Records

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Pune, 14th November 2023: A surge in Indian students pursuing higher education in the United States has marked the academic year 2022-23, reaching a historic high of 2,68,923, according to the latest Open Doors report.

This influx has propelled the overall population of international students on US campuses beyond the one-million mark, with one in every four foreign students being Indian. Reflecting a 35% growth compared to the previous year, the majority of enrolled students are graduates, totaling 1,65,936, while undergraduates stand at 31,954. A snapshot survey for Fall 2023 reveals that 70% of American institutions are now prioritizing undergraduate outreach efforts in India.

The unprecedented rise in enrollment prompted US consulate offices to work tirelessly, issuing a record-breaking number of visas, exceeding 1.4 lakhs for Indian students—the highest in two decades. Mirka Martel, head of research, evaluation, and learning at the Institute of International Education, highlighted a robust 63% increase in Indian graduate students, accompanied by a 16% uptick in undergraduates. India retained its position as the leading source of students on Optional Practical Training (OPT), with 69,062 students participating.

Among Indian students, STEM subjects, particularly mathematics and computer science, remain the most popular fields of study, followed by engineering and MBA programs. While India stands as the second-largest contributor to international students, China retained the top spot in 2022-23, with 2,89,526 students in the US, albeit with a negative growth rate (-0.2% year-on-year) for the fifth consecutive year.

Exceeding pre-pandemic levels, the total number of international students enrolling in US colleges and universities for the academic year 2022-2023 rose by 14% year-on-year, reaching 2,98,523. The overall international student enrollment in the US surpassed one million (1,057,188), representing a 12% increase compared to the previous year—an accomplishment noted in the Open Doors report.

For the first time since 2014-15, international student enrollment increased across all academic levels, including masters, doctorates, and professional degrees. Undergraduate student enrollment witnessed a year-on-year growth of 1%, breaking a five-year trend of decline.

Addressing concerns about job cuts in the US tech industry and opportunities for students, Martel emphasized the robust growth and sustained interest from Indian students to continue their studies in the US. The Fall 2023 snapshot survey revealed a 17% increase in overall international students on OPT, signaling promising prospects for students pursuing optional practical training.

The Fall 2023 International Student Enrolment Snapshot highlighted India as the highest priority for undergraduate and graduate recruitment among all places of origin. The survey, which involved over 630 US higher education institutions, revealed that 70% are prioritizing undergraduate outreach, and 80% are prioritizing graduate outreach for Indian students.

Brenda Grewe, acting managing director of the visa office at the Bureau of Consular Affairs, US Department of State, acknowledged the significant milestone, stating, “This year we issued over 1,40,000 student visas…that’s the most we’ve done in 20 years, so that’s pretty significant.”