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International Students in the U.S.: What Changed in 2016?

Tuesday | December 27, 2016 | by Kaitlin Ramby

International Student raises hand in class

The International Institute of Education recently published new data in its 2016 Open Doors Report on international students in the U.S. What exactly changed in the past year and what were the new trends in U.S. international students? See the infographic below to find out.

International Students in the U.S. 2016 infographic

The infographic above is an updated version of a previous blog post: “A Breakdown of International Students in the U.S.

Here are some important trends that continued in 2015-2016 along with a few noteworthy changes:

Continued Growth in Total Numbers

For the 10th year in a row, there was an increase in the number of international students in the U.S. From 2015 2016, there was a 7.1 percent increase in the number of international students who studied in the U.S. (over 1 million international students).

Top Countries of Origin Continue to be China and India

U.S. institutions continued to see growth in the number of Chinese and Indian students. The combined numbers of these students make up nearly half of all international students in the U.S. Also, although Chinese students were the largest in number, the growth rate of Indian students far exceeded Chinese students with a 24.9 percent increase compared to China’s 8.1 percent.

STEM Programs Grew in Popularity

Although the four most popular fields of study for international students remained the same, those that experienced the highest rate of growth in 2015-2016 were in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Engineering increased 10.3 percent and math and computer science went up 25.4 percent. Now, over one-third of all international students come to the U.S. to study STEM.

Academic Level OPT Had the Biggest Increase

In 2015-2016, each academic level grew in number except for non-degrees, which saw a decrease of 9.1 percent. Students involved with optional practical training (OPT) saw the biggest increase in 2015-2016 with 22.6 percent. A large reason for this trend is due to a new visa extension of the STEM OPT program that was originally 17 months and increased to 24 months. This can also explain the growth in the number of students studying in STEM fields.

International students who come to the U.S. for their studies continue to have a positive impact on the American economy, and according to the Institute of International Education, “Students from around the world who study in the United States also contribute to America’s scientific and technical research and bring international perspectives into U.S. classrooms, helping prepare American students for global careers, and often lead to longer term business relationships and economic benefits.”

Are you an international student interested in studying in the U.S.? Apply for a credential evaluation today.

Kaitlin Ramby

Kaitlin Ramby is the former Digital Content Producer and a Contributing Writer for World Education Services.