First in 7 years: US community colleges see spike in international student enrollment in 2023

At least 52,600 international students enrolled in associate degree community colleges across the US for the academic year 2022-2023. This marks the first increase in community college international student enrollments since 2016.

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Community colleges experienced a 7.2 percent increase in international student enrollments last fall, according to the annual report of the Institute of International Education.

At least 52,600 international students enrolled in associate degree community colleges across the US for the academic year 2022-2023. This marks the first increase in community college international student enrollments since 2016.

The drop in enrollments, as reported by Open Doors, started from a two percent dip in 2017, followed by 8.3 percent in 2018 and 2019. The pandemic saw community college international student enrollments drop by a whopping 24 percent in 2020 and 12.5 percent in 2021.

Meanwhile, US higher education institutions saw a 12 percent overall increase in international student enrollment, surpassing the 1 million mark.

Although all sectors experienced an increase, the surge was primarily fueled by the growth in graduate programs.

The report also noted a 28 percent increase in international students in non-degree programs, which now stands at 43,766.

The following schools make the top five community colleges based on international student population:

  • Lone Star College System (2,917)
  • Houston Community College System (2,807)
  • Santa Monica College (1,782)
  • Dallas College (1,544)
  • Valencia College (1,448)

Top countries of origin

China remains the top home country for international students in community colleges, a position it has held since 2013 when it replaced the top-seeded South Korea.

The other countries of origin include Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil.

Meanwhile, the report also acknowledged Tennessee’s Pellissippi State Community College as the top two-year college for sending 116 students abroad in 2022 and another 160 in 2023.

Overall, at least 380 community college students pursued international study experiences in 2023 with the help of a state consortium for international studies serving community colleges.

Scholarship opportunities

Recognizing its impact, the US State Department granted $35,000 to the consortium to provide training and mentorship for other community college systems looking to establish their own study-abroad opportunities.

This month, three community colleges, Portland Community College (Oregon), MiraCosta College (California), and Mesa Community College (Arizona), were acknowledged by the US State Department for their high number of recipients of the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship for the 2021-22 academic year.

The scholarship program, inclusive of a category for associate-degree colleges, offers students with limited financial resources the opportunity to study or intern abroad, providing scholarships of up to $5,000.

Lone Star College in Texas recently celebrated four students who participated in the Gilman program, studying in Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Ireland. Eduardo Avila-Cazares, who visited Spain and Portugal, expressed that the experience heightened his awareness of the extensive study abroad, research, and internship opportunities available to students.

Nathan Yasis

Nathan Yasis

Nathan studied information technology and secondary education in college. He dabbled in and taught creative writing and research to high school students for three years before settling in as a digital journalist.

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Nathan Yasis

Nathan Yasis

Nathan studied information technology and secondary education in college. He dabbled in and taught creative writing and research to high school students for three years before settling in as a digital journalist.

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