International enrollments in US universities dropped 43% in fall 2020, new study shows


International students in US universities are comprised of 35% students from China and 18% from India.

The number of Indian students in US universities dropped only 4.4% in 2020 as per a report, while the drop in overall international enrollments in fall 2020 was much higher, at 43%.

A study funded by the US government shows a drastic drop in international enrollment in US universities for fall 2020. New international enrollment fell 43%. The number of international students studying at US universities—from within the United States or online from abroad—decreased by 16% this fall. But enrollments of new international students decreased by more than 2.5 times that percentage. The Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange surveyed more than 700 colleges. The report is sponsored by the US Department of State and published by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

The decline in international enrollment includes a large number of students who deferred admission on account of the pandemic. The report pegs this number at 40,000. 

Among Indian students, only 4.4% said they had dropped their plans to study in a US university, while 55% deferred their admission, a major Indian daily reports, citing a report by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).

That report showed a 16% drop in foreign students in the fall of 2020 compared to 2019. 

The recorded fall of 4.4% in the number of Indian students to 193,124 after six straight years of growth is also the sharpest decline since the last 5% fall in 2005-2006. 

The 42% drop in new international enrolments in fall 2020 recorded by Open Doors is the worst hit. The drop in 2020-2021 is likely to be steeper due to the impacts of Covid-19. However, 90% of the universities state that students have deferred enrolment by a year and this is a sign that next year the students will resume their plans to study in the United States. The QS survey indicates the same as it states that as of November 2020, only 6% of international students wish to no longer study overseas while 55% deferred their entry to next year. 

The QS report constituting 700 US institutions highlighted that 20% of their international students are studying on an online mode. Data on country-wise 2020 enrolments are not available. 

The Open Doors report also reflects that 18% of the one million international students in the United States are from India and the only other country that holds a bigger international population share in US institutions is China with 35%. 

Click to read reports by IIE and QS.

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