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Asian Students Continue to Select North America as Primary Study Destination

Written by Matan Odell, ESLI Recruiter
Published on 2018-12-13
Understanding the Facts
The 2017/18 academic school year saw the highest number of international students enrolling in U.S. history.  According to IIE’s Open Doors 2018 Report, a total of 1,094,792 international students enrolled in U.S. academic institutions this past year.  

Despite persistent questions surrounding visas, safety, and the official positions of the U.S. government, students consistently select the United States as their primary destination.   The vast majority of these international students originate in Asia: a total of 758,076 Asian students studied in the United States in 2017/18 according to the Open Doors 2018 Report.  From the previous year, Vietnam grew 8.4%, China (+ 3.6%), Philippines (+7.3%), Laos (+14.3%), Myanmar (+16.1%), and Cambodia grew by a massive 28.7%. 
The United States looks to be on track for further - modest - gains in 2019.  I invite readers to view an important message from US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, on celebrating International Education Week, this past month: 

Likewise, according to the Canadian Bureau for International Education, international students studying in Canada grew to nearly 500,000 students, a growth of 20% over the previous year, and surpassing Canada’s International Education Strategy of reaching 450,000 students by 2022.  Canada has achieved this goal five years ahead of schedule and expects continued growth into 2019 and beyond. 
According to findings from the 12th annual ICEF i-graduate Agent Barometer, which were released in November 2018 at ICEF Berlin, agent education counselors continue to view the United States and Canada as the top two most attractive destinations for their students in the English speaking world; positive news for both markets.

Why Choose North America?
North America offers world-class universities – with approximately 50% of the World’s Top 50 Universities located in North America, according to The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019.  For this reason, North American universities have earned the respect of potential students, the world over. 
Students are drawn in equal numbers to diversity in programs offered at North American universities and the access they may have in groundbreaking research opportunities.  Research done by Project Atlas indicates that Inbound students overwhelmingly select the United States over other major destination countries in the following Fields of Study: Social Sciences, Physical and Life Sciences, Engineering, Mathematics, and Computer Sciences, Education, Business and Management, and Fine and Applied Arts.

In my travels as a recruitment director in Asia, students, parents, and education counselors regularly tell me that North American universities offer an ideal environment to study.  Campuses are often located in “College Towns,” which enable students to immerse themselves in student-centered towns that offer lower costs of living, exceptional social opportunities, green spaces, and a safe environment to study.

Finally, and notably, both the United States and Canada offer generous work privileges post-graduation through Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Canada’s work opportunities for international students; allowing international students to stay and work.
North American destinations will continue to represent the most desirable places to study for International students for the foreseeable future.  

ESLI Centers in the United States are accredited by CEA.