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Data Reveals STEM Courses Popular Among Foreign Scholars To The US

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Yocket Editorial Team
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STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs are a big hit among international scholars going to the US and open up a plethora of job opportunities. For Indian scholars too, certain specialisations are on top of the list. Recent market data reflects on the popular areas opted by international scholars. 

Fast Facts

  • Around 81% of international scholars to the US opted for STEM programs in 2020-21, as per a recent report
  • From July 2020 till June 2021, 85,538 international scholars engaged in research, teaching, and clinical activities at US universities 
  • Harvard, Columbia, and Yale were among the top three choices for scholars from across the world
  • With 12,714 scholars in 2020-21, India had the second highest number of international STEM scholars in US institutions

As per the recent Open Doors Report, physical and life sciences (40%), engineering (16%), health fields (15%), computer science and math (6%) and agriculture (4%) were some of the leading STEM specialisations opted by international scholars in 2020-2021.  

Around 81% of international scholars to the US opted for STEM programs in 2020-21. Social sciences and business management were among the non-STEM fields which had 6% and 3% takers among international scholars respectively. 

From July 2020 till June 2021, 85,538 international scholars engaged in research, teaching, and clinical activities at US universities and colleges, as per the report. 

 

Why Indians Go For STEM Programs 

With 12,714 scholars in 2020-21, the second highest in the US and 14.9% of the total number of international scholars, India had a prominent representation in the STEM fields in US institutions. 

Interestingly, while all other countries who sent scholars to study in US recorded a considerable drop in the number of scholars in 2020-2021 from the previous year, the decrease in the percentage of scholars from India was the lowest at 5.9%. More than 60% of all international scholars were from Asia. 

Harvard, Columbia and Yale were among the top three choices for scholars from across the world. University of California, University of Michigan and John Hopkins University are also on the priority list of those opting for a course in the STEM disciplines.  

Indian and international students choose the US for some of the best academic and post study work opportunities. For the US universities, foreign students add diversity and perspectives to their campuses and to their communities. They also collaborate with their US peers for initiatives and opportunities in the areas of STEM, innovation, research, business and trade.

How The US Supports STEM Scholars

The STEM courses offer some of the best education and learning opportunities and are designed to attract the cream talent from across the world, including those who want to excel in the areas of science and research and who can come up with innovations and breakthroughs, adding to the economic growth. 

The US Department of Homeland Security added 22 new STEM fields of study recently in areas such as data science, data visualisation and cloud computing that facilitates up to three years training with domestic employers for foreign graduates from US universities. 

Despite the pandemic, US higher education institutions extended support to international scholars with 86% of institutions that responded to the Open Doors Report providing latest information to scholars on the changing US policies and rules. As many as 85% universities communicated with the international scholars on travel guidelines, visa regulations, policies, and procedures. Nearly 72% allowed scholars to alter their start date as many of them were unable to travel. 

The US also announced an Early Career STEM Research Initiative by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This is aimed at facilitating non-immigrant, exchange visitors to the country. 

The US government has laser-focused its foreign policy on foreign education and enrolments, and the popularity of the STEM courses is in line with that. The country has increased the eligibility for the Optional Practical Training (OPT) programme recently to incorporate students from more STEM fields. It will also be easier for foreign STEM graduates to get Green Cards.

With new initiatives and consistent popularity, STEM fields are likely to find more takers among international education aspirants going forward.