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Foreign pupils a big revenue source for US economy



The US government’s latest order on foreign students in the country — if their colleges are offering only online courses, they can no longer stay in the US — will adversely affect many Indian students.

According to the 2019 Open Doors Report on the International Education Exchange, there were over one million international students in the US in the academic year 2018-19. India has the second largest share in number of international students in the US after China. Chinese and Indian students account for more than half of international students in the US.

The number of Indian students in the US crossed 200,000 for the first time in 2018-19.

This number was less than a 100,000 in 2012-13, the earliest period for which data is available at the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) website, which publishes the Open Doors reports. (See Chart 1)


According to data from the US government, the number of active students from India in the US was 194,556 in January 2020.

While India is an important source of international students in the US, the profile of Indian students is different from the rest of the international students in the US.

More than 80% of Indian students are enrolled in graduate programmes or Optional Practical Training, which allows student visa holders to work for a year.

Only 12 % of Indian students were enrolled in under graduate programmes in the US. This share is at least 45% for students from countries excluding India. (See Chart 2)


International students, including those from India, are a major source of revenue for the US economy. According to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, a Washington based non-profit working on international students and exchange, international students brought $ 41 billion in revenue and supported around 460000 jobs across various sectors in the US.

A survey of educational institutions by IIE in November 2019 had found that issues related to the visa application process or delays and denials of visa were the top reason for drops in new enrolment in the fall of 2019.

The survey also found that academic institutions in the US were concerned about slowing growth of students from Asia, especially China and India.


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