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International student enrollment in US institutions drops

After a 4-year slide due to Trump administration immigration policies, enrollment of new international students fell dramatically in fall 2020 because of COVID-19, according to the Institute of International Education. Total international student enrollment also took a nosedive

by Andrea Widener
November 19, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 45



    Total international students in the US for the 2019–20 academic year, down 1.8% from the previous year. This was the first decrease in total enrollment in at least a decade.


    Proportion of all students at US institutions who are international students


    Decrease in total international student enrollment in fall 2020 from enrollment for the 2019–20 academic year


    Institutions that reported that some international students deferred admission for fall 2020


A bar chart showing the annual change in enrollment of new international students since 2014–15.

Sources: Institute of International Education, Open Doors "2020 Fast Facts" and Fall 2020 International Student Enrollment Snapshot.
Note: Numbers are from 2,900 institutions included in the annual Open Doors report except for fall 2020 numbers, which are from the Fall 2020 International Student Enrollment Snapshot survey of 700 institutions. a Optional practical training is a visa extension of up to 3 years for additional training related to a student's degree.

A table showing numbers and proportions of international students from the top 5 countries in 2019–20.
A pie chart showing the proportion of each level of education for international students in 2019–2020.
A pie chart showing who paid for international students' study in 2019–20.
A table showing the fields of study for international students in 2019–20 and the change from 2018–19.



This story was updated on May 4, 2021, to cite the source for the graphics' data and to add a note explaining what optional practical training is.


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