For some reason, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), decided to issue an update on international student enrollment as of May 2017. There are currently 1.18 million international students with F (academic) or M (vocational) status studying at 8,774 schools in the US, according to the latest SEVIS by the Numbers update (PDF), of whom 77% are from Asia.
Based on data extracted from SEVIS May 5, the international student population increased 2% compared to May 2016, with 76% of students enrolled in higher education programs of study. Based on past increases, or taking a glass is half-empty look at that increase, it’s very modest at best, and a harbinger of a downward trend at worst.
[In my opinion, May is not the best time to be analyzing and comparing international enrollment figures in the US because it’s the end of the academic year. Why not wait until October, after the beginning of the new academic year?]
China and India continue to send the largest number of students to the US with 362,368 students and 206,698 students, respectively. Saudi Arabia experienced the largest decline at -19% and Nepal the most sizable increase at +18%.
There are some bright spots, however, including one related to Vietnamese enrollment. Viet Nam was one of a handful of sending countries with a notable increase of 6% from May 2016 to May 2017. India was in the same range with a 7% increase.
Fields of Study
There are no surprises here. Business, including management, marketing and related support services, are the most popular fields of study, followed by engineering, computer science, remedial education and liberal arts. 43% of international students enroll in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs of study. DHS classifies
This biannual report includes a new section on regional data trends. Below are some excerpts from the SEVIS update:
Northeast: The international student population in the Northeast increased 4% when compared to May 2016, marking the highest proportional growth of the four US regions. Rhode Island was the only state in the region to experience a dip in the number of international students compared to the previous year, while New York and Massachusetts added the largest number of international students during that same period, 4,490 students and 2,770 students, respectively. New Jersey saw an increase of 10% in international students pursuing bachelor’s degrees.
South: In the South, the international student population grew 3% since May 2016. Florida, Georgia and Texas all saw significant increases in the number of international students studying in those states. While Louisiana, Tennessee and Oklahoma saw decreases in the number of international students studying there.
Arkansas, Kentucky and Maryland all saw major growth in international students taking part in their higher education system. Maryland saw a 10% increase in the number of students earning a bachelor’s degree. However, the southern region saw the largest growth at the graduate degree level. The number of international students pursuing master’s degrees increased 25% in Arkansas and 35% in Kentucky.
Midwest: The Midwest saw minimal growth of 1%. Illinois added 1,331 students to its international student population, marking the largest increase in the region, while Nebraska experienced the largest proportional growth of 7%. Missouri experienced the largest decrease in international students, both in terms of student numbers and proportional decline, 763 students and 3%, respectively.
West: In the western part of the US, international student enrollment stayed relatively static in California, other than an 8% increase in the number of students earning bachelor’s degrees. Idaho saw a 14% drop in the total number of international students studying in the state, with a 16% decrease in the number of students earning a bachelor’s degree. Nevada’s international student population grew by 5%, marking the largest proportional growth in the region.
The top 10 host states for Vietnamese students are as follows:
- New York
The top three states enroll 46% of all Vietnamese students, while the top 10 enroll nearly 72% of the total. Consistent with the regional trends reported above, Florida surpassed Pennsylvania and Georgia displaced Minnesota from November 2016.
Stay tuned for the next, and much more interesting, update on the number of international students in the US, including from Viet Nam!