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IIE Report Shows Rebound in International Students in U.S.

International students are returning en masse to U.S. campuses after the challenges of COVID-19 limited student mobility for the last two years, according to a new report by the Institute of International Education.

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While only 8 percent of U.S. campuses reported that all international students attended in-person classes in spring 2021, their numbers shot up to 55 percent this spring, the report said. Additionally, IIE found that international student interest in U.S. colleges is on the rise, with 65 percent of institutions surveyed reporting an increase in applications compared to last year.

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The number of U.S. students studying abroad also saw an upswing after the pandemic halted many such programs in 2020 and 2021 or created logistical challenges that made travel more difficult. The IIE report, based on a survey of member institutions, said 58 percent of reporting institutions are offering study abroad programs this summer, while 65 percent plan to do so in the fall and 64 percent intend to do so in spring 2023.

Institute officials noted that 83 percent of respondents reported increases in study abroad numbers projected for 2022 and 2023, and 81 percent mandate a COVID-19 vaccine to take part in such programs, due to requirements set by the campus, study abroad providers or the destination countries.

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The IIE also found that 248 U.S. colleges, or 44 percent of respondents, hosted international students from Ukraine in 2022 and supported students in various ways while their country continued fighting the war instigated by Russia. Another 307 institutions, or 55 percent of respondents, reported hosting Russian students. IIE reported that colleges offered various support services to Ukrainian and Russian students such as mental health counseling, emergency student funding and housing.

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