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India surpasses China as top source of international graduate students in US: Open Doors Report

The number of Indians pursuing postgraduate studies in the United States (US) increased 63 per cent to 1.65 lakh in academic year 2022-23 — surpassing China for the first time in 15 years to become the largest source of international graduate students in America. There were 1.26 lakh Chinese graduate students in the US during the same period.

According to the latest Open Doors Report released on Monday, 2.68 lakh Indian students were studying in the US last year at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, including those enrolled in Optional Practical Training programmes, which allow foreign graduates with F-1 or student visa to engage in paid or voluntary work for up to three years. This is 35 per cent more than the 1.99 lakh students recorded in 2021-22, and represents the largest single-year jump in at least 23 years, data analysed by The Indian Express shows.

China and India together account for 52 per cent of the total international student cohort in America.

Indian international students

This milestone also represents a significant shift in the demographic composition of international students in the US. India’s share has doubled over the past decade, rising from 12 per cent in 2012-13 to 25 per cent in 2022-23 — just two percentage points shy of the current Chinese share, which stands at 27 per cent. A decade ago, China’s share was 31 per cent.

Students from India now outnumber those from China in 24 US states, including Illinois, Texas, and Michigan, which are among the top destinations for international students.

Festive offer

The Open Doors Report, an annual survey examining international student exchange activity in the United States, is funded by the US Department of State and conducted by the non-profit Institute of International Education (IIE).The latest edition shows India has left behind the slump that had set in the year before the pandemic. For two successive years, between 2018-19 and 2019-20, as well as 2019-20 and 2020-21, there was a decline of 4.4 per cent and 13.2 per cent, respectively, in the number of Indian students enrolled in US universities.

Indian international students

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In a continuing trend, engineering is no longer the most popular choice for Indians pursuing higher education in the US. Programmes in mathematics and computer sciences have seen a significant increase in popularity, with 41.2 per cent of total Indian students in the US now studying these subjects, up from 26 per cent a decade ago. In fact, mathematics and computer science are steadily eroding the share of engineering disciplines, which has decreased from 38 per cent a decade ago to 26.9 per cent in 2022-23.

Commenting on the record number of Indian students in the US, American Ambassador Eric Garcetti said in a statement, “The decision to study abroad, and your choice of the United States, represents a valuable investment by you and your families…We also look forward to balancing these record numbers. We want to see equal numbers of women pursuing studies in the United States and see more US students coming to experience all that India has to offer.”

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Overall, international students make up just 5.6 per cent of all college students in the US in 2022-23, but they are a crucial source of revenue for American universities as they are usually charged much higher tuition rates than local students. After India and China, the countries that sent the most students were South Korea, Canada, Vietnam, Taiwan and Nigeria.

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