Students celebrate graduation at the City College of New York in Harlem, New York. File Photo by Bryan R. Smith/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 13 (UPI) -- The number of international students in the United States has reached a record high, but at the same time new enrollment fell, a new report said Tuesday.
More than one million international students have enrolled in the United States for three consecutive years. That number increased 1.5 percent over the past school year to reach a new high of 1.09 million, the 2018 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange said Tuesday.
Gains in the number of international students are caused primarily through increased participation in the Optional Practical Training program, which allows foreign students to practice their skills in the United States for up to 12 months after they complete their academic programs.
Furthermore, the program allows students who've earned a degree in science, technology, engineering and math fields to study in the United States even longer, for up to 36 months.
OPT participation grew by nearly 16 percent in the past school year alone, the report said.
Meanwhile, the report noted new enrollment of international students fell by 6.6 percent over the most recent school year -- following a decline the year before of 3.3 percent.
More competition from other countries, safety concerns and immigration policies are creating growing challenges for foreign students to take classes in the United States, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The United States is still the top host of international students, globally, the report added. They contributed $42.4 billion to the U.S. economy last year through tuition, board and other expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.