The number of new international students enrolling for the first time at an American college fell by more than 6 percent in fall 2017.
According to Open Doors 2018, a report by the State Department and the Institute of International Education, about 271,700 new students enrolled at American institutions in fall 2017, compared to about 290,800 who enrolled the previous year.
However, the number of international students in the U.S. increased 1.5 percent in the 2017-2018 school year to a new high of about 1.09 million. In the 2016-2017 school year, there were about 1.07 million international students. The increase in overall students despite the decrease in new students is a result of current students participating in the Optional Practical Training program which allows students to remain in the country for temporary work after graduation for a certain period of time.
The report found that most of the international students were from China, with more than 363,000 Chinese students enrolling in the 2017-2018 school year. This is an increase of 3.6 percent from the previous school year. Behind China, more than 186,000 students came from India, an increase of 5.4 percent. Nepal had the most growth in students with a 14.3 percent increase. 13,270 Nepalese students enrolled in the 2017-2018 school year. The number of students from Saudi Arabia fell the most. In fall of 2017, 54,555 students from the country enrolled — a decrease of 15.5 percent from the previous school year.
In the United States, California has the highest number of international students enrolled. Almost 162,000 international students were enrolled in fall 2017 — a 3.2 percent increase from the previous fall. In second place, New York has 121,260 international students enrolled.
Of American universities, New York University has the most international students enrolled, with more than 17,550 studying at the Manhattan school. University of Southern California is second, with 16,075 international students enrolled. For the 2017-2018 school year, almost 442,800 international students were studying to obtain an undergraduate degree. Almost 383,000 were enrolled for a graduate degree and about 65,630 were enrolled in a non-degree program.
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Most international students were in college for engineering, followed by business, math and computer science, social sciences and physical and life sciences, and, most foreign students (58.6 percent) were funding their own education.
When it comes to Americans studying abroad, far less head to another country — about one in 10 students. In the 2016-2017 school year, 332,727 American students studied abroad — a 2.3 increase from the previous school year. Most students went to the United Kingdom, followed by Italy, Spain, France and Germany.
While abroad, most American students were working toward degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, business, social sciences, foreign language and international studies and fine arts. Additionally, most Americans were enrolled in short-term programs during the summer for 8 weeks or less. About one-third were enrolled in a semester-long program.