Tuesday, February 22, 2022

COVID19 Impact: Declining Enrollment of Pakistani Students in US, China

Pakistan, the world's sixth most populous nation, ranked 18th in the number of students studying in the United States. Pakistani students enrolled in the US fell by 5.8% to 7,475 in 2020-21, significantly less than the 15% drop in international student enrollment. However, number of Pakistanis studying in the US in 2020-21 was even less than students from much smaller nations like Nepal which ranked 12th. Overall, COVID19 travel restrictions brought down the total number of foreign students enrolled in American educational institutions dropped to less than one million in 2020-21, the lowest figure since 2015-16.  

Pakistani Students in the US. Source: OpenDoors

China maintained its top position among the leading places of origin for international students, with 35% of all international students in the 2020-21 school year hailing from the country, according to the data released by the United States government.  The second most common place of origin was India (18%), followed by South Korea (4%) and Canada (3%). Some of these countries also experienced the largest year-over-year declines in the number of students who enrolled at US institutions. The largest such percentage decreases occurred in South Korea (-21%), China (-15%) and India (-13%).

Foreign Students Studying in US. Source: OpenDoors

The number of students in China, the top destination for Pakistani students, was also heavily impacted by COVID travel bans. Some 28,000 Pakistani students are affected by China’s tough border closures and are studying from home. Studying in China has only been possible for South Korean students who were granted an exemption in July 2020, according to reports.  

Pakistani Students in the US. Source: OpenDoors

During his recent visit to Beijing, Prime Minister Imran Khan brought up the issues faced by Pakistani students in resuming education in China. A joint statement issued by Chinese and Pakistani sides mentioned it thus: "Pakistan side highlighted that China has become a popular education destination. While ensuring safety against COVID-19, China will arrange for Pakistani students to return to China and resume classes in a prudent manner". 

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