SEVIS 2019: Language training, associate degrees, and considerations of distortion (Part One)

The United States Department of Homeland Security recently released quarterly data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) that revealed a 3.1% drop in the number of foreign students in the US—the difference between 1.21 million in December 2017 to 1.17 million in December 2018—sparking widespread concern throughout the international education field. The data confirms that nine of the 10 countries that send the highest volumes of international students to the US registered fewer numbers of student visa-holders in 2018 than they did in 2017. Additionally, it shows drops in all but six states’ share of the total international student population.

Continue reading “SEVIS 2019: Language training, associate degrees, and considerations of distortion (Part One)”

Five gender balances and imbalances that define international education in the United States

Balance or imbalance—Is there a gender disparity in international education in the United States?  It is true that more female students come to the US to study than the combined total of US students who study abroad, but a greater proportion of those who study abroad from the US are female.  To mark International Women’s Day and this year’s campaign theme of #BalanceforBetter, INTO’s Dana Bukenova and JP Deering examine some of the gender balances and imbalances that define the international education environment in the US.

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INTO Giving marks more than $1 million donated to education projects around the world

INTO Giving raising $1 million to help schoolchildren and their teachers was a gigantic feat. When we saw we’d reached that million-high orbit, a thrill raced through us. We knew we’d done something monumental.

That ‘we’. That ‘we’ is important.

We, in this case, means thousands of INTO students and graduates from across the world, thousands of INTO employees and faculty, INTO’s global network of agents, INTO University Partnerships and university partners, and INTO’s founder.

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An Existential Crisis – or Learning to Operate in a VUCA World?

“These are the times that try mens’ souls”

Latest SEVIS release confirms a decline in foreign enrollments in the United States

In 1998, the United States War College coined an acronym VUCA – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. It was designed as a conceptual model to help military officers understand the world – and has been popularized by the world’s leading Business Schools.

Continue reading “An Existential Crisis – or Learning to Operate in a VUCA World?”

Dive into our analysis of international students in the United States

Working with the latest release of SEVIS Data – March 2017, we have compared the number of students registered in the United States from across the Middle East and China from the same reporting period last year. We believe this is the most up to date analysis available anywhere.
You can analyze these data by state or by region. How dependent has your state been on Saudi Arabian students? And how have you been affected by those changes? What is the latest distribution of Chinese students across the United States? Who is vulnerable if there is a drop in Iranian students? Explore this with the interactive maps below

Middle East and Africa


About INTO

Every year, INTO University Partnerships helps almost 14,000 students from 120 countries and territories around the world achieve their dream of studying overseas.

We work with individual students, universities and governments through a sophisticated, multi-channeled marketing operation, providing the highest quality student experience – the heart of our mission.

Come say hello if you are at NAFSA in Los Angeles or contact Frank Merendino if you would like to discuss opportunities for your institution.

Sharing the Pain – Decline in Saudi students hits almost every state and every level of study across the United States. What next for Iran?

Most of us in international education eagerly anticipate the publication of Open Doors or IPEDS data. For those who can’t wait, dive into our analysis of live international student mobility data from the March 2017 SEVIS data release. We have analyzed differences in volumes of SEVIS registered students all over the United States. This blog and visualization focuses on students from across the Middle East and North Africa.
As most international student recruiters already know, diversity is the key to a successful, long-term international recruitment plan. Smart, forward-thinking universities are doing all they can to ensure they are capable of recruiting a diverse international population – but attracting students from across the globe is challenging for a variety of factors and the competition for international students will only intensify in the coming years.

Saudi Arabia

Our analysis indicates the decline in enrollments from Saudi Arabia has hit almost every state in the nation – with SEVIS reporting a 33% decline in Saudi students registered in California in March 2017 compared to March 2016. These declines are evenly spread across most states in the United States. Although it is particularly noticeable in the State of Idaho which has seen a 39% drop in Saudi students registered in March 2017 compared to March 2106.

The year on year decline in Saudi students is felt across all sectors with a 52% decline in Saudi students enrolled in Language programs compared to March 2016. The drops are more modest, but still evident at Bachelors and Masters Level. At the other end of the spectrum, there has been an increase in the number of Saudi Arabian students registered on Doctoral programs.

Table One: Saudi Arabian Students in the United States – March 2017, SEVIS


Iran, the second most populous country, and a major target in President Trump’s Executive orders shows where the US will be vulnerable. With almost 13,000 students registered in March 2017, this showed a healthy increase on the previous year. Iranian students are much less likely to be enrolled in language programs – with the largest cohort registered as doctoral or masters level students. Moreover the recent growth indicates Iranian students evenly distributed across the nation. Whether we will experience a decline in those numbers in the next release of data.
The recent growth in students from Iran and the concomitant decline in students from Saudi Arabia

Table Two: Iranian Students in the United States – March 2017, SEVIS

Explore the data for yourself – Our interactive graphic allows you to explore these data in more depth by state or by source country in the region. We have also collated these data for every world region and for each university. So please do contact us, if you would like to explore what this means for your school or home state.

Every year, INTO University Partnerships helps almost 14,000 students from 120 countries and territories around the world achieve their dream of studying overseas.

We work with individual students, universities and governments through a sophisticated, multi-channeled marketing operation, providing the highest quality student experience – the heart of our mission.

Our results speak for themselves. We have helped universities grow and then sustain their international student population at levels beyond their peers, often at multiples of national averages.

We have comprehensive data for every college and university in the US. Contact Frank Merendino to set up a meeting to discuss ways INTO Insights & Analytics can help you meet your campus internationalization goals.

World’s Largest Agent Survey Reveals Differing Levels of Enthusiasm for Study in the United States and United Kingdom

New findings from the world’s largest international education agent survey affirm concerns about continued attractiveness of the United States as a study destination. The survey of more than 1300, education counsellors from 85 countries, was conducted by INTO University Partnerships during March and April of 2017.

While overall sentiment remains broadly positive, there are significant regional variations in the responses. China, the bedrock of international demand for the United Kingdom and the United States indicates demand will remain buoyant. On the other hand, feedback from agents across India and the Middle East indicates that some institutions and countries are going to have to work much harder to overcome some negative perceptions.

Key Takeaways

  • China, the world’s largest market, remains buoyant with strong forecast demand for the United States and the United Kingdom
  • There is clear indications of a rising concern over safety and signals of welcome for the United States – especially from India and the Middle East
  • There is a perception of student visa processes becoming markedly more challenging for students from India in particular
  • Most agents report improvements in the United Kingdom as a value destination – a by-product of Brexit and the devaluation of UK sterling against most global currencies.Ultimately, demand for an international education remains strong, but this survey provides a powerful reminder that we should not take that demand for granted. Perceptions matter and those institutions and countries who expect to welcome international students need to continue to work hard to develop an offer which remains compelling to them. It is more important than ever that we continue to reinforce the positive messages which have been the recent hallmark of US higher education in the aftermath of the US election and the recent Executive orders.


Across the global network of agents, the majority still forecast increases in the number of students coming to the United States and the United Kingdom. (Our more detailed results, available in two weeks will carry details of forecasts for Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand).

Chinese agents remain most buoyant – all expressing confidence about sending more students in the coming 12 months. What is noticeable however is an increase in the number of agents from India and the Middle East who expect to send fewer students to the United States in the coming twelve months. This appears to be linked to three factors, perceptions of visa processes and welcome and increasing perception of challenges in safety, which we explore in more detail in this post.






Agents from the Middle East and India, the United States’ second largest market, report an increase in negative sentiment. More than half the agents in India report the US has become less welcoming over the past 12 months. And almost half of those based in the Middle East and North Africa report a similar shift in perceptions of welcome.
This would suggest that the efforts of many college campuses across the United States is more necessary than ever. It is vital to continue to communicate publicly, as in the case at George Mason University, how international students are valuable members of the campus community. But is that enough?

It is a more promising picture from the United Kingdom, where Middle Eastern agents remain broadly positive of the United Kingdom as a welcoming destination – less than 15% of agents believe the UK has become a less welcoming destination in the past twelve months.


Whether this reflects evidence of a more strident nationalistic rhetoric or the widespread reporting in India of the murder of two Indian workers in Kansas earlier this year, what is very clear is that certain regions are increasingly concerned about the safety of their students in the United States.
This is in marked contrast to the United Kingdom, where there is little to no evidence of any rising concern about student safety. (Note, this survey was conducted before the horrific bomb attack in Manchester in late May).



For international students, the ability to secure a visa or have confidence that they will be welcomed is a key determinant of where they will end up studying. Through 2016, reports came from India of much higher levels of visa rejection for students intending to study in the United States. This has clearly shaken confidence amongst the agent network in India where more half of all agents confirm they believe the visa situation has gotten worse. This in turn drives almost a quarter of those agents to explore alternative destinations for their students. In terms of countries picking up the slack, Canada, Australia and Ireland all appear on an upwards trajectory.



Investment in an international education involves life-changing sums of money for students and their families. One very noticeable trend in this year’s survey is agent perception of increased value for study in the United Kingdom. More than half the agents surveyed across all regions report an improvement in the value for money of the United Kingdom. This is hardly surprising, given the devaluation of sterling against most global currencies since the Brexit referendum held on June 23rd 2016. The continued strength of the US dollar does not appear to have had an overly negative impact on the United States per se, except in that in combination with other factors, it may make the US more expensive relative to other major destinations.


A collective belief in the value of international education

INTO University Partnerships was founded on the principle that education has the power to transform the lives of our students, university communities and employees, and that internationalization benefits us all. Our commitment to this principle has never wavered across our 11 years of operation, despite countless changes of government and policy around the world. Continue reading “A collective belief in the value of international education”

The power of diversity – Hasan’s story

This is a picture of the commencement ceremony at Oregon State University, (OSU) which took place in the summer of 2016 and involved more than 6,400 students from 63 counties.  In many respects it was similar to ceremonies taking place across US campuses last summer as it also included thousands of students with their families and friends celebrating their achievements. Continue reading “The power of diversity – Hasan’s story”

The far horizons

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page,” St Augustine.

Many young Canadians view studying in the United States as studying abroad. But Raed Ayad says that although both Canada and the US have much to offer prospective students, there is a whole world outside of the two countries which can offer them an even richer experience.

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