U.S. colleges and universities are seeing more international students enroll following a sharp decline during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | <a href=License Photo” height=”533″ src=”https://cdnph.upi.com/svc/sv/upi/9031668479545/2022/1/82f048374ea226db923bf8d354a1b784/Intl-student-enrollment-at-US-colleges-rebounds-after-pandemic.jpg” title=”U.S. colleges and universities are seeing more international students enroll following a sharp decline during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo” width=”800″>

U.S. colleges and universities are seeing more international students enroll following a sharp decline during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 14 (UPI) — U.S. colleges and universities are seeing more international students enroll following a sharp decline during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new survey, released Monday from the Institute of International Education and the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, found first-time international student enrollment was up by 80% last year compared to the year before.

During the last academic year, 948,519 international students from more than 200 countries studied at a U.S. college or university, a 4% increase compared to the previous school year, according to the “Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange.”

“We are thrilled to see international student numbers on the rise, and to see the United States maintain its global leadership as the top destination of choice for international students,” Lee Satterfield, assistant secretary of state for Educational and Cultural Affairs, said in a statement.

China and India represented the majority, at 52%, of all international students in the United States. Other countries sending students to U.S. colleges, including Canada, Mexico and Nigeria, also returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“The incredible rebound we have seen in international student mobility demonstrates the United States’ and its higher education institutions’ unwavering commitment to welcoming students from around the world,” said IIE chief executive officer Allan Goodman. “Investment in international exchange remains the best way for educational institutions and countries to connect people and ideas around the world.”

International student enrollment also added $32 billion to the U.S. economy last year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“Welcoming international students to American campuses and communities is at the heart of people-to-people diplomacy and a foundational component of our U.S. foreign policy strategy to attract the top talent to the United States,” Satterfield added.

While the number of international students coming into the United States has rebounded, the number of U.S. students studying abroad has also gone up. U.S. colleges and universities reported a 523% increase in students going abroad in the summer of 2021.

“As study abroad re-emerges for American students, the Biden administration is expanding the tools available to students to provide greater affordability and accessibility for all students to ensure it reflects the rich diversity of the United States,” Satterfield said.

“Study abroad is of strategic importance, as we prepare American students to compete in an increasingly interconnected world.”