Number of Indian Students in the US grows at 5.4% in 2017-18, lowest growth in 5 years

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The number of Indian students in the US touched an all-time high of 196,271 in 2017-18. But the growth in the number of Indian students in the US hit a 5-year low of 5.4% in 2017-18. Indian Students contributed $7.5 billion to the U.S. economy in 2017, more than twice the amount of Indian Government’s budgetary support to all autonomous institutions in the country. 

The 2018 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange revealed that the number of international students at U.S. Colleges and Universities remained at more than a million even in 2017-18. But the annual growth rate of international students in the US was only 1.5% in 2017-18, the lowest  in eight years. The number of international students was at 1,094,792 in 2017-18 as opposed to 1,078,822 in 2016-17. The number of Indian Students in the US grew by only about 5.4% in 2017-18, the lowest growth rate in 5 years. This slowdown was expected following the uncertainty in the VISA regime and Donald Trump becoming the President.

Asian students in the US now at 69%
As per the Open Doors report, out of the million plus international students in 2017-18, 69.2% are from Asia (more than 50% from China & India alone), 8.5% from Europe, 7.3% from the Latin America, 8.3% from Middle East & North Africa. A mere 3.6% are from the Sub-Saharan Africa. The percentage of Asians has increased continuously in the last three years. At the same time, the percentage of students from Muslim majority Middle-Eastern & North African countries has decreased continuously in the last three years, clearly indicating the impact of the policies of Donald Trump.

China & India account for more than half the International students in the US
As expected, the two most populous countries of the world account for more than half of the international students in the US in 2017-18. China leads the pack with 363,341 students followed by India with 196,271 students. South Korea is third in the list followed by Saudi Arabia and Canada. Seven of the top ten countries are Asian. There are more than 10000 international students each from sixteen (17) different countries in 2017-18.
Number of Indian Students in the US increases, but growth falls to a five year low
The number of Indian students in the US has increased by more five times, from 33,818 in 1997-98 to 196,271 in 2017-18, in a period of about 20 years. They currently make up 17.9% of all international students in the USA, up from 15.8% in 2015-16. The number of Indian students in the US has increased in every year except in 2005-06 and in the period between 2010-11 and 2012-13 when there was a negative growth. The highest growth rate of 29.4% was observed in 2014-15. The growth in the number of Indian students in 2017-18 was 5.4%, the lowest in 5 years.
Field of Study – Engineering is still the favourite for Indian Students
True to its name as a land of engineering graduates, more than 70% of the Indian students in the US chose Engineering/Computer Science/Math (STEM) as their field of study as against a global average of 38%. Only about 10% chose Business & Management as their field of study compared to a global average of 18%. Except for engineering & computer science, the percentage of Indian students who chose a specific field of study is less than the global average for all other fields.  For instance, while 7.6% of the international students chose Social Sciences, only 2.2% of the Indian students chose Social Sciences as their field of study.

Indian Students contributed $7.52 billion to the US Economy in 2017
According to the Open Doors report, Indian students in US contributed  $7.52 billion to the U.S. economy in 2017. This is more than twice the amount of Indian Government’s budgetary support to all autonomous institutions in the country in 2018-19 including the IITs, IIMs, NITs, Central Universities etc. The international student community on the other hand contributed $42.4 billion to the U.S. economy in 2017.

Most Indian Students go to the US for Masters
48.7% of the Indian students in the USA are at the Graduate (Masters) level in 2017-18, down from 56.3% in 2016-17 and from 64% in 2014-15, clearly indicating the impact of the decrease in F-1 visas in the last few years. 11.9% of the Indian students are at the Under-Graduate level. More than 38% of them are in OPT (Optional Practical Training) compared to just 22.1% in 2014-15.

Texas, California & New York still the favourites for Indian students
Texas, New York & California in that order were the top three destinations for Indian students in the US in 2017-18. Texas had 21171 Indian students while California & New York both had more than 20000 Indian students each. Illinois & Massachusetts were the only other states with more than 10000 students each. The top 10 states with Indian students accounted for 63% of all Indian students in the US.  It must be noted that Texas was the not the top destination for all international students. It was the 3rd most preferred destination for international students and 1st for Indian Students. The most preferred destination for International students was California followed by New York.
Primary Source of Funding for International Students
For more than 58% of the international students in the US in 2017-18, the primary source of funding was their family.  The current employment funded the studies of more than 18% students, up from 6.6% in 2015-16. This indicates that the proportion of those with work experience going to the US for higher studies has gone up substantially in the last few years. About 16% were funded by a US College or University while 5.2% were funded by a Foreign Government or University.

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