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Number of Int’l Students Enrolling in STEM Programs Increases Steadily

Amid overall dwindling enrollment numbers of international students, the U.S. colleges and universities have something to cheer for.

According to new data released by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the number of foreign students pursuing postsecondary degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields has witnessed a steady increase in recent years.

During the 2017-2018 academic year, more than one million foreign students were granted student visas out of which half were enrolled in STEM programs.

Students from China and India were the leading sources of STEM students enrolled in the U.S with 316 thousand of all foreign STEM students enrolled in the country.

The most popular STEM field for students was engineering (23 percent) followed by mathematics/computer science (18 percent) and physical/ life sciences (8 percent).

In the last two decades, there has been a 315 percent increase in the number of postsecondary STEM degrees attained by foreign students. Also, the international students earned nearly half of the overall masters and doctorate degrees issued in STEM fields in the 2016-2017 academic year.

However, the data confirmed that the new enrollments of foreign students nationwide have dropped by 9.6 percent during the last two academic years.

The 2018 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange surveyed 540 institutions out of which 49 percent reported a decline in new international student enrollment, 44 percent reported an increase, while enrollment at 7 percent of institutions remained the same.

Reports have attributed various reasons to the declining trend of international enrollments among which visa delays and denials tops the list, followed by the social and political environment, cost of tuition among others.

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