Indian Students Are Joining American Universities in Increasing Numbers

US UnivData released by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement indicates a recent surge in the number of Indian students seeking to study in American universities. According their report, there has been a “31.9% increase in the number of Indian students studying in American universities since 2014”. This bucks a trend that goes back almost a decade:  from 2008-09 to 2013-14, the number of Indian students studying at American Universities was a fairly flat 1,00,000 annually. In 2014-15, this figure jumped by around 32% to 1,32,888.

This increase is part of a rise in the number of international students studying in the US. In 2015, that number was up by about 9%. However, a staggering 76% of these were from Asia. So, the fresh influx of students seems to be a largely Asian phenomenon fuelled perhaps, by the robustness of the pan-Asian economic scene.

In this overall picture, students from India accounted for about 13.6% (or 1,32,888) of the 9,74,926 international students who enrolled for undergraduate (Bachelor’s), graduate (Master’s) & doctoral (Ph. D.) programs in the US in 2014-15. A full 31.2% or 3,04,040 of these students were Chinese. One possible reason for this is that very large numbers of Chinese students have started enrolling for the undergraduate courses where the intake is larger while, the majority of Indian students join graduate courses which tend to offer more funding but have a smaller intake.

Another noteworthy trend is that Indian (and more broadly, Asian) students show a heavy preference for courses in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – especially, computer science. Currently, there are 10,54,045 international students on F and M visas in the US. Of these, 4,05,314 students are studying courses in STEM fields and of these in turn, 80% of them are from Asia. As many as 81% of all Indian students are studying STEM fields – this is the highest percentage for any country; and California, Texas and New York have emerged as popular destinations for students studying courses in the STEM category.

If these trends are any indicator, we should see a few more Satya Nadella’s and Sunder Pichai’s emerging in the coming years; If you are an engineer, a student from the field of computer science or one from the STEM category more broadly, this could be your opportunity to make it big in the United States. Even Donald Trump has said that, should he become President, he is willing to welcome bright young minds from India because he knows they contribute to America’s economy – and if Trump says so, the doors must definitely be open!

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