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The total number of Indian students in US fell 4.4% to a seven-year low of 193,124 in the year ended 31 March 2020, shows data

The number of Indian students studying in American universities fell in 2019-20 for the first time in seven years, showed data issued by the US government on Monday.

The total number of Indian students in US dropped 4.4% to 193,124 students in the year ended 31 March 2020, showed the report titled Open Doors. In 2012-13 the number of Indian student in the US had fallen by 3.5%.

In 2018-19, 202,014 Indian students were in the US, compared to 196,271 in 2017-18.

The fall in overall number of Indian students came at a time when the US witnessed a fall in both new and cumulative enrolment of foreign students. This fall compares poorly with the 29.4% growth in 2014-15, and 24.9% in 2015-16, albeit on a lower base.

Despite the drop, Indian students make up 18% of the total number of international students in the US, second only to China, which has over 372,000 students, or 34.6% of the foreign student population.

To be sure, cumulatively, around 1,075,496 international students were in the US universities in 2019-20, 1.8% lower year-on-year.

Though the report did not give country-specific data on new enrolments for FY20, overall new international enrolments stood at 267,712, which was also a seven-year low.

Visa issues and anti-immigration voices by the Trump administration had marred sentiments, as per experts. The number of foreign students could drastically fall this fiscal year as covid-19 has forced the closure of campuses, restricting movement and hit the income of families. The 2020-21 numbers are slated to be issued in November 2021.

“In recent years, Indians aspiring to study in US universities did feel confused because of the negative sentiments, the noise around immigration restrictions and visa issues. Besides, the welcoming environment in the UK, Canada, New Zealand Australia, etc., have given it a tough competition,” said Richa Dwivedi Saklani, a study-abroad consultant in Gurgaon.

However, India was not the only country to record a decline. Of the top 10 nations sending students to the US, seven reported a fall in 2019-20.

South Korea saw a 4.7% decline, while Mexico and Saudi Arabia reported a fall of 5.8% and 16.5% respectively.