Why is India emerging as popular destination for international student recruitment?

The IIE’s Spring 2023 Snapshot on International Educational Exchange highlights that for the 2023/24 academic year, US higher education institutions are looking towards India.

According to IIE data, in 2021-22, the top 10 senders of students to US higher education institutions were:

  1. China
  2. India
  3. South Korea
  4. Canada
  5. Vietnam
  6. Taiwan
  7. Saudi Arabia
  8. Brazil
  9. Mexico
  10. Nigeria

In 2021-22, Chinese enrolments fell by -8.6%, in contrast to an 18.9% year-over-year leap in Indian enrolments. 

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Experts believe that the increasing focus on India is due to the “unpredictable Chinese student market”.

Dr Esther D. Brimmer, NAFSA executive director and CEO, told ICEF Monitor:

“The US is in a global competition for talent and our share of the international student market is declining while other English-speaking countries are seeing their share rise. International students are a well-spring of fresh ideas, talent, and experiences and have fueled American innovation for generations.”

Further, 61% of responding US colleges and universities indicated that they have received more applications for 2023-24.

Image: Volume of international student applications reported by US colleges, 2020/21–2023/24 (Source: IIE)

According to the IIE, in 2021-22, there were more international graduate students (41%) than foreign undergraduates (36%) studying in the US.

This was for the first time in a decade!

Image: Undergraduate recruitment priorities reported by US colleges for 2023-24 (Source: IIE)

In the US, international students contributed $33.8 billion to the economy in 2021-22 while pre-COVID it stood at $45 billion in 2018.

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More than 4 in 10 graduate recruiters are focused on outreach to international students in undergraduate programmes in the US.

At the graduate level, graduate recruiters mentioned India (77%) as a top market.

Image: Graduate recruitment priorities reported by US colleges for 2023-24 (Source: IIE)

Education experts believe that given the increased applications along with intensified graduate recruitment, the proportion of Indian students in US higher education will show record growth.

The IIE’s report is based on responses from 527 US higher education institutions collected from 27 April to 19 May 2023.