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Recruiting Intelligence

International Student Enrollment Data - Nearly Real Time from SEVIS

In honor of the U.S. Federal Tax Filing Deadline this week, we dedicate this Intead Insight to another federal agency with filing requirements – the US Immigration and Customs Service and the SEVIS system that many of you know all too well (and wish you didn't).

We all know that the visa process plays a significant role in the university enrollment process. We highly recommend you listen to our podcast with former State Department Officer Tony Edson for valuable insights into the State Department's Visa Services.

We looked at the latest SEVIS report published with data as of January 15, 2014 which provides very interesting information on the origins of students, majors, and so forth. This kind of data is usually only available from the IIE Open Door Data published each year. The SEVIS data includes mandatory reporting by all SEVIS schools and seems to provide a more comprehensive picture, AND it is published quarterly

Here's the starting point: 992,000 students are studying on F1, M1 visa as of January 2014 in the U.S.

Before we look into the students’ trends, let’s look at a figure that receives less attention. Who exaclty is enrolling these students?

The report covers a broad range of schools including vocational programs and also language programs qualified to enroll international, non-immigrant students.

Table 1 displays the distribution of international student enrollment and you notice that ONLY 24 schools enroll more then 5,000 students; 192 schools enroll more than 1,000.  Interestingly the largest segment of schools (6,800+ or roughly 75%) enrolls fewer than 50 students or even none.

Graph 1


The report also shows the level of education: 73% of enrolled students are in bachelor, master and doctoral programs, which means that more than 25% are enrolled in other programs such as high schools (50,000 students) and language programs (more than 90,000 students).

This information is great to see since it reveals the additional education segments recruiting students internationally. And with this SEVIS data we can reconsider the $23 billion economic impact of international students in the U.S. as reported by the IIE/NAFSA Open Door Report. In our judgement, the figure is on the low end

The report also shows a geographic concentration of schools enrolling international students, one third of all SEVIS schools are based in four states: California, Texas, Florida and New York. Add Pennsylvania, Illinois and Massachusetts and seven states account more more than half of all international, non-immigrant students.

Where We'd Like to See This Go: SEVIS provides a useful snapshot of the international enrollment trends and the data is closer to real time than anything else we've encountered -- cue Rousing Applause. We would welcome a next step in which SEVIS added the data to the .gov datasource allowing institutions to parse the data by region and other criteria. After all it's U.S. taxpayers money that many of us just paid on April 15th that underwrites the SEVIS system. We ought to have a say in this, don't you think?

We hope the US Immigration and Customs Service is listening. Feel free to "like" this post or share it if you agree. More voices are stonger than one.

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