For the 2020/21 academic year, the total number of international students enrolled in U.S. higher education came crashing down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the 2021 Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange published by the IIE, around 914,000 students from abroad were enrolled in U.S. higher education institutions in the past academic year. The decrease of 15 percent from the previous year represents a grave financial loss for institutions. The loss of around 160,000 international student cost stakeholders around $10 billion dollars, according to NPR.
International students make up 4.6 percent of the total U.S. student population, down from 5.5 percent in 2019/20. They contributed $39 billion to the American economy in 2020.
China remained the largest source country for international students with a grand total of 317,299 enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, non-degree and optional practicing training programs. India came second with 167,582 while South Korea came third with 39,491. Canada rose one spot into rank 4, as its international student numbers decline the least in the pandemic. 54 percent of all international students in the U.S. are enrolled in STEM fields.