Differences and Similarities: Chinese and Indian Students in the U.S.

Despite current challenges, American universities are still considered some of the best in the world by foreigners. The number of foreign students in the U.S. has bounced back from the pandemic, as reported by the Washington Post. However, the demographic of foreign students has shifted.

Except for a few universities in the U.K., individuals from other countries generally want to send their children to American universities. This includes Chinese families, despite the strained relationship between their country and the U.S. China continues to be the top sender of foreign students to the U.S., with 290,000 Chinese students enrolled in American universities in the 2022–23 school year.

India is rapidly rising as a close second, with 269,000 students from India in the same period, surpassing the number from two years ago by approximately 100,000. The number of Chinese students, however, has decreased by about 30,000 during the same timeframe.

The graph below displays the percentage of foreign students in the U.S. from China and India since 1999, based on data from the Institute for International Education.

India’s share of foreign students in the U.S. has been rising, potentially surpassing China’s next year. The distance between India and third-place South Korea is considerable, with South Korea sending only 44,000 students to American universities in 2022–23. The following countries in the list, in descending order, are Canada, Vietnam, Taiwan, Nigeria, Japan, and Brazil.

Foreign students have a significant impact on American universities as they are among the few customers who pay the full price for their education. Admissions offices often tailor prices for students based on their financial constraints. Foreign students are usually ineligible for financial aid but come from affluent families that can afford full tuition.

The number of Indian students in the U.S. is expected to continue rising, given India’s projected population growth and economic strength. As India increasingly views the U.S. as a partner in global affairs, the ties between the two countries are strengthening. These factors, combined with the growing wealth of Indians, suggest that the trend of Indian students studying in the U.S. will persist.


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