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NEW DELHI: The number of Indian students pursuing education in American universities and colleges in 2019-20 was at a three year low of 1,93,124, as the country witnessed a sharp fall in both new and cumulative enrollment of foreign students, as per official data.

At 1,93,124, the number of Indian students studying in the US was down 4.4% year-on-year, as per the Open Doors report released on Monday. In 2018-19, the US had 2,02,014 Indian students pursuing degrees, and in 2017-18, the number was at 1,96,271.

The decline compares poorly with a 29.4% growth in 2014-15 and 24.9% in 2015-16.

Indians comprise 18% of the international students population in the US, second only to China. The Chinese students’ cohort with a number over 3,72,000 accounts for 34.6% of total foreign students pursuing education in the US.

Experts believe that while visa issues and anti-immigration noises by the Trump administration have already marred sentiment, the number of foreign students in the country could fall more in 2020-21 as covid-19 has forced universities to shut down, restricted movement and hit income of students’ families.

The 2020-21 numbers will be released next November.

To be sure, India is not the only country which sent lesser number of students to the US in 2019-20. Of the top 10 countries sending students to American universities, seven, including India, reported a fall in 2019-20. South Korea reported a 4.7% fall, Mexico 5.8%, while Saudi Arabia sent 16.5% less students.

Chinese students studying in the US rose a paltry 0.8%, and those from Taiwan by 1.8%. Brazil sent 3.8% more students.

To be sure, cumulatively, some 1,075,496 international students were in the US universities in 2019-20, 1.8% lower on year. Though the report did not give country specific data on new enrollments in 2019-20, overall new international enrollments of 2,67,712 was at a seven-year low.

The US, however, remains the top destination for Indian students looking to pursue education abroad, and to assist them, the US Department of State offers advisory services through its seven EducationUSA centres in New Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, and Mumbai, the US embassy in New Delhi said in a statement.

Early next year, a second EducationUSA centre will open in Hyderabad hosted by Y-Axis Foundation, it added.

Minister Counselor for Public Affairs, David Kennedy, said, “Over the last 10 years, the number of Indians studying in the United States has roughly doubled, and we know why: the United States is the gold standard for higher education, providing practical application and experience that gives our graduates an advantage in the global economy."

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