NEW YORK — The number of international students arriving at U.S. colleges and universities has declined by an average of 3.6% since 2005, according to a new report from the Council of Graduate Schools.
The report, released on Thursday, found that since the start of the recession, the number of students enrolled in higher education has declined to the lowest levels in a decade.
Students in the United States now number fewer than 1.2 million.
The report said the number fell to 2.2 billion in 2020.
That decline, the report said, could reflect a number of factors including a lack of foreign exchange credits, a decrease in foreign student numbers and increased international student enrollment.
“The sharp drop in international student enrollments in recent years is consistent with the recession,” the report’s author, Mark Pielke, told The Associated Press.
Pielke said the fall in international enrollment could be attributed to the economic downturn, the country’s trade imbalance and the changing political climate in Europe.
U.S.-based students were the largest group of international student students in 2020, accounting for 11.2% of the total, with the average student holding two foreign exchange degrees.
By 2020, international students accounted for 12.4% of all international students enrolled at U,S.
universities, but by 2025, that share had fallen to 5.6%.
More than 5 million U. S. students were in higher ed in 2020 as a result of international study, up from 4.6 million in 2020 and 2.6 in 2025.
The number of foreign students enrolled also increased, from 676,000 in 2020 to 726,000 last year, the study said.
International students were more likely to have come to the United State to study engineering or mathematics, and to have major in engineering, the analysis said.
The number and type of degree courses, and the number and types of major courses taken by students in general, also increased.