133,000 Indian students contribute $3.6 bn to US economy

Washington, Nov 16 (IANS) With a whopping 29.4 percent increase, a record high of 132,888 Indian students studying in the US in 2014/15 academic year contributed $3.6 billion to the US economy, according to a new report.

India was the second leading place of origin for students coming to the US, making up 13.6 percent of the total international students in the country, according to the 2015 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released Monday.

The report is published annually by the Institute of International Education in partnership with the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

International students’ spending in all 50 states contributed more than $30 billion to the US economy in 2014 with students from India contributing $3.6 billion, the report said citing the US Department of Commerce.

China remains the top sending country, with almost twice the number of students in the US as India, but India’s rate of growth and absolute increases outpaced China’s 11 percent.

It was also the second year of rising numbers for India, following three years of declines.

India’s 29.4 percent growth is the highest rate of growth for Indian students in the history of the Open Doors project, which spans back to 1954/55.

The last time India grew at a comparable rate (29.1) was in 2000/01 when the number of students from India exceeded 50,000 for the first time.

India, China and Brazil accounted for most of the growth in international students on US campuses as their numbers grew at the highest rate in 35 years, increasing by ten percent to a record high of 974,926 students in the 2014/15 academic year.

“We are excited to see that record numbers of students are taking advantage of international education opportunities,” said Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The number of Indian students in the US is more than double what it was 15 years ago in 1999/2000.

The majority of Indian students in the US study at the graduate level, according to the report. In 2014/15, their breakdown was: 12.4 percent undergraduate; 64 percent graduate students; 1.4 percent other; 22.1 percent OPT (Optional Practical Training).

In 2001/02, India became the top sender of students to the US and retained that position for eight years, through 2008/09.

In 2009/10, the rate of growth from India levelled off, and China overtook India as the top sender and retains that place for the sixth year in a row now, after eight years of double-digit increases.

In 2014/15, China and India together accounted for 67 percent of the increase in international students, and they now constitute nearly 45 percent of the total number of international students in US higher education.

Students from the top three countries of origin – China, India, and South Korea – now represent approximately 51 percent of the total enrolment of international students in the US, with the number from China and India increasing, and the numbers from South Korea declining by six percent.

In the 2013/14 academic year, 304,467 American students studied abroad for academic credit, an increase of five percent, the highest rate of growth since the 2007/08 academic year. India saw a five percent increase in students from the US.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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