US remains the first choice destination for international students

The 2020 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released on November 16, revealed that the United States remained the first choice for international students for abroad studies for the fifth consecutive year. According to the report, the US hosted more than one million international students (1,075,496) during the 2019/2020 academic year.

The number of international students enrolling in the US universities declined slightly by 1.8 percent during the 2019/2020 academic year compared to the previous year. However, international students amounted to 5.5 percent of all students in US higher education. According to the US Department of Commerce, international students contributed $44 billion to the U.S. economy in 2019.

The 2020 Open Doors report, released by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education (IIE), provides a critical baseline on the state of international educational exchange before the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the 2019/2020 academic year, the United States remained the top destination for international students. New international student enrollment continued to stabilize minus 0.6 percent and showed marked improvement from a 7 percent decline over the previous two years.
The report also details that the total number of Nepali students enrolling with the US universities declined by 3.8 percent in 2019. However, Nepali students are still ranked 12th worldwide in the number of undergraduate and graduate enrollment combined.

The United States remains the preferred choice for Nepali students planning to study abroad.

The pressed statement released by the US Embassy in Kathmandu stated that the US encourages prospective Nepali students to explore US higher education institutions. The US institutions offered a variety of enrollment options, such as online and deferment opportunities. The embassy would resume routine visa services so students could pursue their dream of studying in America as soon as it is safe to do so.

Although international education and exchanges have been affected by COVID-19, the US Embassy in Nepal remains committed to helping Nepali students prepare for their education in the US by providing online resources, the statement added.

The US embassy has been regularly hosting virtual advising sessions, webinars, virtual college fairs, and encouraging students to visit its social media platforms.

According to the report, Chinese students remained the largest source of international students in the US in the 2019/20 academic year. Chinese students enrolling in US universities increased for the sixteenth consecutive year. More than 372,000 Chinese students enrolled in the US during 2019/2020, driven by continued growth in Chinese graduate students 3percent and those pursuing Optional Practical Training (OPT) 2percent.

India remained the second-largest source of international students in the US, despite a 4 percent decline to 193,124 students. Among the top 20 places of origin, the largest percentage increased were students from Bangladesh 7 percent, Brazil 4 percent, and Nigeria 3 percent.

However, Saudi Arabia saw the largest percentage drop minus 17 percent, primarily due to changes in its government’s scholarship program.

Over half, 52 percent, of international students in the US pursued majors in STEM fields of study (engineering, math, and computer science, physical and life sciences, health professions, and agriculture) in 2019/2020.

Engineering continued to be the leading field of study with one in five, 20.5 percent, international students pursuing this field. Math and computer science was the second leading field of study, and 205,207 international students pursued this field, 0.9 percent incline compared to the previous year.

During the 2018/2019 academic year, 347,099 US students studied abroad for academic credit, a 1.6 percent increase over the previous year. Documenting ten consecutive years of growth, the 2020 Open Doors report provides a benchmark, indicating strong interest in study abroad programs prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.