Fewer International Students Studying in the US, Boundless Report Finds

Visa issues and political climate top concerns

Aug 12, 2021

A smiling DACA student.

Fewer international students chose to study at U.S. colleges and universities in recent years, according to a new report by Boundless, although that may change during the upcoming academic year.

Even before the pandemic, international student enrollment had dropped, and in 2020, U.S. schools saw a 72% decrease in new student enrollment compared to the previous year.

A survey of U.S. officials found that the top reasons for the decline were visa delays and denials, competition from colleges in other countries, and restrictive immigration policies under the former Trump administration.

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However, 43% of U.S. institutions reported a rise in international student applications for the 2021-2022 academic year, suggesting renewed interest now that a new administration is in power and COVID-19 poses less of a threat, at least in some parts of the United States.

Other key takeaways of the report:

  • International students are huge economic drivers, and contributed $38.7 billion to the economy and supported 416,000 jobs during the 2019-2020 academic year.
  • States with the most international students are California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts, and Florida.
  • New York University, Northeastern University-Boston, and University of Southern California were the top colleges for international students.
  • Engineering, math and science, and business management were the top fields of study.
  • Top countries of origin were China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Canada.

Read the full report here.

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