Marginal growth in US foreign enrolment numbers

The Institute of International Education (IIE), has just published its latest enrolment numbers showing a small increase in foreign student enrolments.

IIE, which focuses on International Student Exchange and Aid, Foreign Affairs, and International Peace and Security, co-operates with the US Department of State in releasing its Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange.

The 2018/19 academic year saw a rise of 0.05% in international enrolments – total foreign students are now a little over one million (1,095,300) and make up 5.5% of the total US student numbers.

Net enrolments however are down

Optional Practical Training (OPT) which permits students to remain in the US to work for up to three years is highlighted as a key contributor to the marginal increase. Removing OPT from the numbers sees international student enrolments slide by 2.1% to 872,215.

While first-time enrolments (commencements) were also down by 0.9% from the previous year, that shows a smaller decline than that registered in 2017/18 (-6.6%) and 2016/17 (-3%).

Strong Presidential message that Chinese students are welcome

Despite increased tensions between the US and China, President Trump in his video presentation within the IIE/Education USA livestreamed event welcomed foreign students and especially those from China. Emphasising how they are valued guests to the US, he said: “There was a rumour that we were going to close schools to China…that is so false. I want them coming.”

Overall, international students contribute almost $45billion to the US economy; Marie Royce (Assistant Under Secretary of State for Education and Cultural Affairs) stated that Chinese students alone contributed $15billion during 2018.

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