Indian Students to the U.S. Have Nearly Doubled in 10 Years

A surprising development in recent years is the dramatic growth in Indians coming to the United States to study. In a phenomenon that has largely gone unreported, the number of Indians studying at American colleges and universities has nearly doubled since the year 2000.

Figure 1 below shows the almost steady rise in Indian enrollment in the United States, based on figures compiled by the Institute of International Education. One can see that in the 2000/2001 academic year the number of Indian students enrolled was below 60,000, while by 2009/2010, the total exceeded 100,000.


To gain a better perspective on the numbers, one can see below in Table 1 the large percentage increase in the enrollment of Indian students in the U.S. since 2000. Between the 2000/2001 and 2009/2010 academic years the number of Indian students enrolled at American colleges and universities increased by 92 percent. That is an extraordinary figure by any measurement.

Table 1
Indian Students Enrolled at U.S. Colleges and Universities

Academic Year Number of Indian Students Enrolled
2000/2001 54,664
2001/2002 66,836
2002/2003 74,603
2003/2004 79,736
2004/2005 80,466
2005/2006 76,503
2006/2007 83,833
2007/2008 94,563
2008/2009 103,620
2009/2010 104,897

Yet the percentage increase in the enrollment of Indian students in the U.S. is even larger if one goes back to 1995. In the 1995-1996 academic year, only 31,743 Indians were enrolled to study in America. That means Indian enrollment at U.S. colleges and universities rose by over 200 percent between 1995 and 2009.



Increases in Graduate or Undergraduate Students From India?

Students pursuing graduate degrees are a primary source of the increase in Indian enrollment in the last decade. In the 2000/2001 academic year, 12,259 Indian undergraduates studied in the U.S. compared to 15,192 in 2009/2010. However, in 2000/2001, the number of Indian graduate students totaled 39,797, but rose to 68,290 by 2009-2010.

Yet those number do not tell the whole story. As Table 2 shows below, Optional Practical Training (OPT) makes up over 18 percent of Indian enrollment in the United States. OPT permits temporary employment for training that is “directly related to the student’s major area of study,” according to Immigration Customs and Enforcement.

Table 2

Indian Students in U.S. by Academic Level: 2009/2010

Academic Level Number Percentage of Total
Undergraduate 15,192 14.5 percent
Graduate 68,290 65.1 percent
Non-Degree 1,758 1.7 percent
OPT 19,657 18.7 percent
TOTAL 104,897

The Implications of These Numbers

The rise in Indian students coming to America reflects positive trends in both countries. First, since most students generally must pay a substantial portion of their education out of family or individual assets, the rise in U.S. enrollment reflects increased wealth in India. Second, the enrollment increase also indicates the rise in technology companies in both India and the United States and the importance of education in technical fields. Third, this is a good news story for American universities, showing their ability to attract outstanding students from all over the world.

A final, important implication of these numbers is that international education makes the globe smaller and a better place to live. Indians who stay in the United States after graduation have the opportunity to build a career that may involve interaction with people or companies in India. Students who complete their studies in America and return to India have acquired greater knowledge of an important market for both customers and commercial partners. And American students gain the opportunity of getting to know individuals and cultures from halfway around the world without even having to leave a college campus.

(Figures and Tables Source: Institute of International Education)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>