Students from China and India accounted for 47 percent of all active foreign students in the US in 2020, according to latest official figures, which also indicated a significant drop in fresh enrolments from abroad due to the impact of the pandemic.
The annual report released by Student and Exchange Visitor Programme (SEVP), part of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) noted that there were 1.25 million active records in SEVIS for F-1 and M-1 students during calendar year 2020, a 17.86 percent decrease from calendar year 2019.
While an F1 visa is issued to international students who are attending an academic programme or English language programme at a US college or university, M-1 visa is reserved for international students attending vocational schools and technical schools.
US schools saw a 72 percent decrease in new international student enrollment in 2020 compared to 2019, it said. New international students include those who were not enrolled in a programme of study at a US school during the previous calendar year, the report said.
In August 2020, there was a 91 percent decrease in new F-1 international student enrollment and a 72 per cent decrease in new M-1 international student enrollment at US schools.
According to SEVIS, there were 382,561 students from China, followed by 207,460 students from India. China and India were followed by South Korea (68,217), Saudi Arabia (38,039), Canada (35,508) and Brazil (34,892), the report said.
SEVIS is a web-based system for maintaining information on international nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors in the US.
Forty-seven percent (590,021) of all active SEVIS records hailed from either China (382,561) or India (207,460) in calendar year 2020, a slight decrease from 48 percent in calendar year 2019.
While the overall number of active F-1 and M-1 student records coming from Asia decreased by 143,697 from calendar year 2019 to calendar year 2020, student record trends varied across different countries, it said.
The number of students from China and India made Asia the most popular continent of origin. However, China sent fewer students in 2020 in comparison to 2019 (-91,936), as did India (-41,761). Still, 74 per cent of all international students in the United States call Asia home. Other Asian countries sent fewer students including South Korea (-15,854), Saudi Arabia (-15,244) and Japan (-10,897), it said.
Forty-four percent (552,188) of F-1 and M-1 international students in calendar year 2020 were female, while 56 per cent (698,964) were male. Among Indian students, 35 percent were females and 65 per cent are males. For China the figures are 47 percent are females and 53 percent are males.
Of K-12 student enrollments in 2020, 42.5 percent were female (33,759). In addition, 44 percent (194,558) of bachelor's and master's international students were female, 50 percent (42,608) of international students seeking associate degrees were female and 39 percent (70,418) of international students seeking doctoral degrees were female in 2020.
Of the top 10 countries of citizenship in calendar year 2020, the average female enrollment was 44 per cent (386,851) and the average male enrollment was 56 per cent (484,103).
According to SEVIS, the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2019 impacted international student enrollment in the United States in 2020. The total number of SEVIS records for active F-1 and M-1 students was 1,251,569 in calendar year 2020, a decrease of 17.86 per cent from calendar year 2019, it said.
The number of international students enrolled at kindergarten through grade 12 (K12) schools decreased 24.6 per cent from 2019 to 2020 (-19,247). In calendar year 2020, US schools saw a 72 per cent decrease in new international student enrollment when compared to calendar year 2019.
New international students include those who were not enrolled in a programme of study at a US school during the previous calendar year. US schools saw dramatic decreases in new international student enrollment in both August and September, traditionally months where the largest numbers of new international students enroll in US schools.
In August 2020, there was a 91 per cent decrease in new F-1 international student enrollment and a 72 per cent decrease in new M-1 international student enrollment at US schools. In 2019, more than three K-12 schools enrolled more than 700 international students, with one school hosting more than 1,000 international students. In comparison, in 2020, only one school hosted more than 700 international students, the report said.