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IIE Open Doors 2020: US hosts 1 million students for 5th year in a row

China (35%) and India (18%) maintain their positions as the top two source countries.
BY Skendha Singh |   16-11-2020

IIE Open Doors 2020: US hosts 1 million students
Image Source: Reuters

The 2020 Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange reports that there are 1,075,496 international students enrolled in the US.

The report surveyed more than 2900 institutions. The number of international students marks a minor decline of 1.8% from the previous year. However, the US remains the #1 choice for international students.  According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, these students contributed $44 billion to the economy.

Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, Marie Royce, told the press, “We are encouraged to see a fifth year of more than one million international students in the United States before the pandemic. International student mobility is as important today as ever, and we believe the United States is the best destination for students to study and earn their degrees. Education is a pathway to a greater future and international educational exchange has the power to transform students' trajectories."

Source Countries

BrainGain Magazine
Image Source: Institute of International Education

China maintained its spot as the top source of international students for the sixteenth consecutive year. 372,000 Chinese students were enrolled in the U.S. There was a 3% growth in the number of Chinese graduates and 2% growth in those pursuing Optional Practical Training.

India continues to be the second-largest source of international students. In 2019, the number of Indian students was 193,124. This marked a 4% decline from 2018.

Bangladesh (+7%), Brazil (+4%), and Nigeria (+3%) saw the largest increase in the number of students enrolled in the US. Due to changes in the government’s scholarship program, there was a 17% decrease in the number of students from Saudi Arabia.


STEM subjects remain the choice for more than half of the international student population. One in five international students were enrolled in engineering courses. This was followed by maths and computer science. There was a 0.9% increase in the number of students opting for the latter subjects.

US Students Abroad

In 2018-19, 347,099 American students studied abroad for academic credit. The number marked a 1.6% increase over the previous year.

56% of American students chose Europe as their host destination. The total number on the continent was 193,000. The second most popular destination was Latin America and the Caribbean which accounted for 14%. Asia was the third most popular destination (12%). However, it showed strong growth (+6%) over the previous year. This was due to a surge in the number of American students flocking to Japan (+5%) and South Korea (+16%).

Fall Semester in the US: 2020

Many universities and colleges are opting for online or hybrid models of teaching. This has led to a 16% decline in international students studying in the US and at US universities, according to the 2020 Fall International Student Enrolment Snapshot Survey. This survey analysed the data submitted by over 700 institutions.



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