The number of enrolled international students at American colleges and universities decreased at all academic levels -- undergraduate, graduate and nondegree -- in the 2018-19 academic year, according to new data from the "Open Doors" report.
The number of international undergraduate students declined by 2.4 percent, the number of international graduate students declined by 1.3 percent and the number of international nondegree students declined by 5 percent.
Despite these drops, the total number of international students in the U.S. actually increased slightly, by 0.05 percent, due to a 9.6 percent increase in the number of international students participating in optional practical training, a program that allows international students to stay in the U.S. to work for up to three years after graduating while staying on their student visas.
The number of new international students also decreased for the third straight year, but the 0.9 percent decline in new international enrollments in 2018-19 was smaller than declines of 6.6 and 3.3 percent reported the two years prior.
The "Open Doors" report, published annually by the Institute of International Education in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State, is based on a survey of international enrollments across more than 2,800 institutions.
A separate "snapshot" survey of fall 2019 enrollments across more than 500 institutions released today by IIE likewise reports an average 0.9 percent decline in new enrollments continuing this fall.
About 51 percent of institutions responding to the snapshot survey reported decreases in new international enrollments, and 42 percent reported increases, with the remaining 7 percent reporting no change. Over all, research universities reported increases in new international enrollments this fall, while master’s institutions and institutions in the Midwest reported decreases.