International student numbers grow, Georgia Tech leads pack in state

Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech

International students are returning to U.S. colleges, including metro Atlanta campuses, after enrollment fell during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last school year brought a 4% increase in the number of international students coming to U.S. universities and colleges, for a total of 948,519 students, according to an annual report released Monday by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education. That’s up from 2020-2021 when international student enrollment dropped to just over 914,000 students.

Last year’s jump in international enrollment still lagged behind pre-pandemic numbers that topped more than one million.

Researchers only have partial data for this fall’s enrollment, but the upward trend appears to have continued. International student enrollment at more than 630 colleges and universities across the country grew by another 9%.

“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,” said Lee Satterfield, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, in a written statement.

Last school year, metro Atlanta had the 11th largest international student numbers of U.S. metro areas, researchers said. The area’s 19 colleges and universities hosted 16,368 international students in 2021-2022, up from 13,343 the year before.

The countries sending the most students to Atlanta, and the rest of the U.S., are China and India. Combined, the two countries make up about 56% of the metro region’s international college student numbers, followed by South Korea, Nigeria and Vietnam.

This fall, 24,164 out-of-country students were studying in Georgia’s 26 public colleges and universities. Nearly 60% of those students were enrolled at Georgia Tech, according to data released this month by the University System of Georgia.

About 7.2% of the system’s 334,459 students hail from outside the United States, compared to 6.56% last fall.

Besides Georgia Tech, the other Georgia colleges with the most international students last year were Savannah College of Art and Design, Georgia State University, Emory University and University of Georgia, according to the national report.