Despite restrictions on visitors to the US by the Trump administration, foreign students seeking higher education continue to rise. India is the second largest source country of foreign students in the United States after China, according to a new official report.
The biannual report on international student trends, released Oct. 28 by the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said that India was the second largest source country of foreign students in 2017, with 249,763 students from the country studying in American universities. China sent 481,106 students.
The total number of students from India and China studying in the U.S. was out of a total of over 1.5 million international students studying in various educational institutions in the U.S. in 2017.
“Forty-nine percent of the F and M student population in the United States hailed from either China (377,070 students) or India (211,703 students), and interest continues to grow,” the report said.
“Over the reporting period, both China and India saw proportional growth between 1 and 2 percent, with China sending 6,305 more students and India sending 2,356 more students. It is this level of participation from China and India that makes Asia far and away the most popular continent of origin. In fact, 77 percent of all international students in the United States call Asia home,” the report noted.
China and India together accounted for nearly half of the foreign students in America, followed by three other Asian countries — South Korea (95,701), Saudi Arabia (72,358) and Japan (41,862) — in the top five. Other countries in the top 10 are Canada, Vietnam, Brazil, Taiwan and Mexico.
Despite being second in the overall standing, India topped the list of students with STEM OPT authorization.
While India topped the list of STEM OPT authorization with 50,507 students, China came in second with 21,705 students. They were followed by South Korea (1,670), Taiwan (1,360), and Iran (1,161).
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training (OPT) program is a 24-month extension of OPT for qualifying students with STEM degrees.
The biannual report, however, said the total number of SEVIS records for active F and M students decreased by 0.5 percent, from 1,208,039 in March 2017 to 1,201,829 in March 2018. The J-1 exchange visitor population increased by 4 percent from 201,408 exchange visitors in March 2017 to 209,568 visitors in March 2018.
Of the four major regions within the continental United States, the Northeast and South hosted the largest number of F and M students and were the only two regions to experience growth over the reporting year. The Northeast welcomed 2 percent more F and M students, while the international student population in the South grew by less than a percentage point.