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Drop in Indian Students Studying in the U.S.: IIE Report

Chinese students helped drive up international enrollments at colleges across America in the 2011-2012 academic year, according to the latest ‘Open Doors Report’ from the Washington D.C.-based Institute of International Education (IIE).

New York (Nov 13) – Indian rupee weakness has contributed to a drop in the number of students studying in the U.S. – as  Chinese students helped drive up international enrollments at colleges across America in the 2011-2012 academic year, according to the latest ‘Open Doors Report’ from the Washington D.C.-based Institute of International Education (IIE).

“Indian parents understand the value of a U.S. education for their children’s careers” says IIE President and CEO Allan Goodman, “I don’t think basic attitudes have changed, it’s just that economic circumstance around capabilities of families to send their children abroad may have changed.”

India, which sent more students to the US than any other country in 2001-2002 through 2008-2009, has seen an evident decrease in these numbers. Six years ago, China and India each had about 100,000 students in the US. Today, the number of Chinese students in America has nearly doubled, according to the report.

India is the second leading place of origin for students studying at the higher education level in the U.S. The report showed 100,270 Indian students in the US in 2011-2012, a 3.5 percent drop from the previous year. 

The weak Indian rupee has made it difficult for some Indian students to pursue their dreams. Few analysts expect the rupee to fall back towards the record low of 57.32 rupees per dollar, seen in late June, but the dollar is still trading around the 55 Rupee mark.

The average American college tuition and fees of $41,870 is hugely expensive even for wealthy Indian families.

“Indian parents still want a great education for their children if they have the resources,” says Goodman.

Despite the decline, America remains the most popular education destination for Indian students who choose it over other popular countries such as the U.K, Canada and Australia.

The majority of Indian students study at the graduate level. In 2011-2012, 58.9 percent of Indian students were pursuing a master’s degree, while 13 percent were undergraduates.

Chinese students contributed to a 23 percent spike to 194,409 in 2011-2012, primarily at the undergraduate level – which led to a 5.7 percent increase in foreign enrollments to 764,495.

The report ranked business and management, engineering, math and computer science, physical and life sciences and social studies as the most popular courses for international students.

“Enrollment for us is up on international students,” says Jerry MacArthur Hultin, President of the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly), an engineering, applied sciences and tech school.  

“There is a rebound in careers in engineering — the field has historically held a place among top salary lists even during times of economic strain. It should continue to do so,” says Hultin.

The ‘Open Doors Report’ indicates a record 764,495 foreign students studied in the U.S. last year. With ten times more college campuses than any other country in the world, the U.S. is a magnet for international students, who brought a combined $22.7 billion to the domestic economy.

According to the IIE, the top five international countries represented by students in the U.S., are China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Canada. Students from India make up 13.1 percent of the foreign student population in the U.S.

The University of Southern California (USC), boasts the highest international student body in the U.S., with 9,269 international students enrolled in the 2011-2012 academic year – 1000 of these were Indian students. Following with high international enrollments are the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, New York University, Purdue University and Columbia University. New York City remains the top metro destination for foreign students in the U.S.

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