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New Delhi: The number of Indian students going to the US for higher education in 2019-20 was at a three-year low, according to data released Monday by the US Open Doors Report 2020.

The report states that 1,93,124 Indian students were studying in various American universities and colleges in 2019-2020 — a decline of 4.4 per cent when compared to 2018-19. The US had 2,02,014 Indian students pursuing higher studies in 2018-19 and the number stood at 1,96,271 in 2017-18.

The Open Doors report is published annually by the New York-based Institute of International Education (IIE).

However, despite decreasing numbers, Indian students comprised the second highest percentage of total international students in the US in 2019-20, second only to China. Indians constituted 18 per cent of the total international students in American institutions.

In an official statement Monday, the Minister Counselor for Public Affairs at the US Embassy, David Kennedy, said the number of Indians studying in the US has nearly doubled in the last 10 years.

“Over the last 10 years, the number of Indians studying in the US 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,” Kennedy said.

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‘Reduced numbers a fallout Trump administration’s policies’

Experts have earlier said visa rules and anti-immigration policies by the Donald Trump administration could be reasons behind this decline in the number of Indians pursing higher education in the US.

They also believe the numbers are likely to decline further because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“The numbers that we are seeing today are a fallout of four years of the Trump administration’s policies. The policies have clearly affected people’s decisions in terms of choosing their higher education destination. Also, the numbers are likely to be affected further because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic,” Vanita Shastri, dean, Global Education and Strategic Programs at Ashoka University, told ThePrint.

She added, “Lots of PhD positions will not be open because universities would want to continue the funding for the existing students and not invite new ones. Similarly, masters positions could also be affected.”

Sumeet Jain, co-founder and higher education expert at Yocket, an online platform that helps students aspiring to study abroad, said, “A lot of students had changed their plans because of the kind of negative sentiment that developed around the Trump administration and this is the reason that we see a decline in numbers.”

He added: “At the same time, Canada picked up as a higher education destination and students shifted there. The situation is going to be similar for the 2020-21 report also, because of Covid-19. But after that we can see some upward trend in the numbers.”

Not only Indians, the overall number of international students in the US has declined in 2019-20, according to the Open Doors report.

The number of international students in the US has decreased by 1.8 per cent in 2019-20 (1,075,496 ) as compared to 2018-19 (1,095,299). This number is also the lowest in the last four years since 2016-17, when 1,078,822 international students were enrolled in US institutions.

Also read: As online classes drag on, fatigued students ‘losing interest, becoming asocial’, say parents


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