All things not equal: SEVIS data show COVID-19 took disproportionate toll on language programs in U.S.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) recently published its 2020 SEVIS by the Numbers report outlining Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) data on F-1 students from calendar year 2020.  The report provides a comprehensive picture of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on international student enrollment at American institutions last year, revealing that the number of international students in the U.S. decreased by 17.86% and the number of new international student enrollments decreased by 72%.

COVID-19 did not take an equal toll on international enrollment at different levels of study.  Associate degree and intensive English programs saw more significant losses than did programs at other levels of study in 2020—especially doctoral programs, which made it through the year relatively unscathed.  This marks a continuation of pre-pandemic trends up until 2019/20, and it threatens to erase early signs of recovery for associate degree and intensive English programs which emerged just before the pandemic began.

Continue reading “All things not equal: SEVIS data show COVID-19 took disproportionate toll on language programs in U.S.”

2021 in focus: Asymmetric recovery among top sending countries for international students in U.S.

At the end of last year, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) released data on active international student records from September 2020, offering new insights into how COVID-19 has affected the number of international students in the U.S.*  INTO, NAFSA, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities recently outlined quick facts from the data in an update to our groundbreaking report, Factors Influencing U.S. International Student Enrollment Growth and Decline.

Among other trends, the new SEVP data show that the number of students from China, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia—three of the top seven sending countries for international students in the U.S.—decreased far more significantly as a result of the pandemic than the number of those coming from India, the second-most sending country.  Furthermore, additional data on F-1 visa issuances and international student applications for fall 2021 admission show that interest in U.S. study in India and other South Asian countries has rebounded quickly as vaccines roll out and global student mobility slowly resumes, while the number of students coming to the U.S. from China and other top sending countries continues to stagnate or decline.

Continue reading “2021 in focus: Asymmetric recovery among top sending countries for international students in U.S.”

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”

Visas and value – Behind the student migration statistics

Latest visa statistics published by Australia, the United States and Canada all point to increasing international higher education student enrolments.  The United Kingdom on the other hand recorded a slight dip for the first time in more than quarter of a century last month – although the forward signs are positive.  In this blog, Tim O’Brien looks at student enrolment patterns, rising costs of an international education and the impact visa policy is having on students from South Asia.

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Can I have the bill please?

So the details of the Immigration bill have just been released, and I can’t help but wonder what the impact of these changes will have on the UK’s ability to still attract the brightest and the best international students?

It is difficult not to agree with the underlying intent of the Bill. It is hard to see why those who do not have the right to be in the UK should be able to use the NHS for free. Landlords should be accountable to tenants to stop this ‘beds in sheds’ abuse. Fines should be increased (doubled) and handed out, as well as assets being seized to stop people who are exploiting non-EU citizens. There is no place for any form of ‘human trafficking’ in a civilized society.  Continue reading “Can I have the bill please?”

Perception and reality – my humbling experience of agents’ work in China

I left INTO at the beginning of 2013 to study Mandarin Chinese full time in Kunming, China. My reasons for doing this and my experiences ‘on the other side’, as an international student, are for another day.

But, with an eye to the future, I wanted to continue some kind of association with INTO, so I approached the recruitment team in Guangzhou to see if I could assist in any way.  Despite my very basic language skills I was fortunate enough to be asked to help Tyler Nusbaum and the team with some agent events. Here I got to experience first hand the reality of the job that agents do to support students. Continue reading “Perception and reality – my humbling experience of agents’ work in China”

£67 million on visa compliance – but is the money being spent in the right areas?

The recent Higher Education Better Regulation Group report which estimated that the UK higher education sector has spent £67 million on visa compliance, got me thinking. Has it really been five years since the Points Based System (PBS) was introduced?

It immediately took me back to when I was working at the University of East Anglia and I was asked to lead on a little project for about six to eight months to make sure that the University’s visa letters had consistency across the faculties and included our new licence number.  It’s funny how that little project has evolved as per the HEBRG report and cost HE institutions £67 million, but surely that must also be seen as an investment in one of the UK’s most valuable export sectors and, more importantly in supporting students on their journey to the United Kingdom?

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Can’t count, won’t count – should be made to count


Over the weekend the BBC reported that the influential Public Administration Committee claimed data used by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) for estimating who enters and leaves the country were a best guess and not fit for purpose as a means of calculating net migration figures upon which major policy commitments are based. Interested observers already know that the Migration Advisory Committee also think that the ONS method is likely to significantly over-state net migration and particularly the impact of international students attending courses in the UK.

To recap, net migration is calculated as the total number of people entering the United Kingdom for a year or longer minus those who leave the country. The Coalition Government in the United Kingdom is committed to reducing the net migration number from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. At present this is calculated based on something called the International Passenger Survey – which is a random sample of up to 5000 people each year asking them why they are entering or leaving the country.  From that the Office of National Statistics extrapolates the net migration number. A deeply flawed and unreliable mechanism, given the millions of entries and exits to the UK each year. Continue reading “Can’t count, won’t count – should be made to count”