The number of Indian students studying in the United States has dropped continuously for the second consecutive year while the count of international students in the country has now reached a record high with the maximum enrollments from China.
In the year 2011-12, the Chinese student enrollments have increased by 23 per cent in total and by 31 per cent at the undergraduate level, according to the 2012 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange released yesterday.
The report finds that the number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States has increased by six per cent to a record high of 7,64,495 in the 2011-12 academic year, while the US students studying abroad increased by one per cent.
This year, international exchanges in all 50 states contributed USD 22.7 billion to the US economy.
Overall, China sends the maximum number of 1,94,029 students in the year 2011-12 as against 1,57,558 in the previous year.
While China registered an increase in enrollment in American universities, it dropped for those coming from India by 3.5 per cent to 1,00,270 students.
"The number of Indian students in the US in 2011-12 dropped 3.5 per cent compared to the previous year, marking two consecutive years of decline. India had been the leading place of origin for international students in the US from 2001-02 through 2008-09," the report said.
In 2000-01 there was a surge in enrollments from India, with an increase of 30 per cent, followed by two more years of strong growth (12 per cent in 2002-03 and seven per cent in 2003-04), the report said.
However, the increases tapered off in 2004-05 and then decrease slightly in 2005-06, before resuming much larger increases in 2006-07 and for the next two years.
"In 2009-10, the increases levelled off, and China became the top sender and remains in that position. Students from India make up approximately 13.1 per cent of the total foreign student population in the United States," the report said.
In 2011-12 only 13 per cent of the Indian students were enrolled for undergraduate studies, whereas a majority of them (58.9 per cent) are graduate students and 26.7 per cent on OPT (optional practical training).
According to Open Doors, nearly three-fifths of the total Indian students are enrolled in science, engineering or mathematics courses, while in China the focus is on business management.
Higher education is among the United States' top service sector exports, as international students provide revenue to the US economy and individual host states for living expenses, including room and board, books and supplies, transportation, health insurance, support for accompanying family members, and other miscellaneous items.