By Gabrielle Cascio
With each new year comes new data on the state of international education and exchange programs. The information coming out of reports such as IIE’s Open Doors and NAFSA’s Economic Value Statistics indicate pre-pandemic level numbers are either here or on the horizon. The data from The Student and Exchange Visitor Program’s (SEVP) 2022 SEVIS by the Numbers corroborates this story.
The report shows that SEVIS recorded 276,723 active J-1 exchange visitors in 2022, an increase of 15% from the previous year’s figure of 240,479. While 2019’s SEVIS-recorded number (532,711) is almost twice as large as 2022’s, the increase from 2021 to 2022 shows clear program recovery. On the F-1 and M-1 front, SEVIS recorded 1,523,758 active students throughout the 2019 calendar year. 1,362,157, the number of F-1 and M-1 students recorded in 2022, is only a 10.6 percent decrease from 2019 and is a 10.1 percent increase from 2021.
Among those overall numbers, Asia stood out as having the largest number of active F and M international student records, making up 70.4 percent of the total international student population. This was in large part due to the number of students from China and India, with 324,196 and 297,151 active students respectively. IIE’s latest Open Doors Report published late last year tells a similar story: according to their report, students from China and India accounted for 52 percent of international students during the 2021/22 academic year.
While understanding where international students are from helps understand international education trends, identifying where they attend school once they arrive in the United States is critical to our work as exchange community advocates. As the Alliance continues to engage congressional offices, the report’s data on the number of international students in each state helps to identify and strengthen champions of exchange programs throughout the country. As in past years, California stood out as hosting the largest percentage of international students (16.5 percent) of any U.S. state. NAFSA’s 2022 Economic Value Statistics tool tells a similar story: international students in California contributed $5.4 billion dollars to the U.S. economy and supported 54,023 jobs. California lawmakers have also come to the table this year, willing to put their support for international education and exchange programming in writing: both CA Senators and 14 CA Representatives signed on to letters of support for the Alliance’s FY24 educational and cultural exchange funding ask. The SEVIS data on international students hosted in California provides us as advocates with another data point to turn to when highlighting the power of these opportunities.
This year’s report continues to confirm what we are seeing from other industry reports: international students and exchange visitor numbers are steadily increasing as the world re-engages post-pandemic.