Those studying in U.S. manage to get here and stay here despite the pandemic.
The recent release of the much-awaited 2021 Open Doors® Report on International Educational Exchange prompted a reaction among U.S. suppliers and destinations that promote and market the U.S. travel and tourism product that—while not the type of item that caused people to ring bells, pop corks and celebrate—was one that warranted a deep sigh of relief.
According to this year’s (2020-21) edition of the Open Doors study, the million or so student visitors who study and work-study in the USA declined in numbers by just 15 percent (See tables below). Much of the relief was due to that fact that that students from China did about the same, dropping from a total of 372.5 thousand last year to 317.3 thousand for the 2020-21 school year. Were the Chinese student market measured as a country source market, it would rank number four, year-to-date, behind Columbia, Peru and Ecuador.
Of course, once international inbound visitor traffic returns to normal (most analysts are pegging figures to those of 2019, prior to the global pandemic that ravaged international travel from March 2019 until the month of November 2021), the traditional top markets, starting with the UK, Japan, China and Germany, will probably emerge as the top four overseas source markets.
It is probable that many international students—they comprise about 5 percent of the overall student population in America—remained in the United States rather than risk returning home and finding themselves unable to return to the USA, which has come to realize the economic impact of this sector of the international travel market, which the U.S. Department of Commerce has estimated contributes $39 billion annually to the U.S. economy.
Following are the key tables from this year’s 2021 Open Doors® Report, which is a product of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and the Institute of International Education.
Top 15 Countries of Origin of International Students
Note: Percent distribution may not total 100.0 due to rounding
Note: Numbers include both enrolled international students and international students on Optional Practical Training (OPT) for all tables except new enrollments
Top 20 Destinations for International Students in USA
University, Location, Number of Students
2020-2021 School Year
Top 10 States for International Students in USA
2020-2021 School Year
For more information on the Open Doors® report, visit: https://opendoorsdata.org/annual-release/