At least 13,423 Nigerians currently studying in the U.S. contributed 514 million dollars to the U.S. economy in 2018, according to official data.
The data is contained in the 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange released by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The report indicates that Nigeria is the 11th leading place of origin for foreign students in the U.S. as of the 2018/2019 session.
It accounts for 1.2 per cent of the total number of 1,095,299 international students in the country.
A breakdown of the figure shows that 5,689 of the Nigerian students are at the undergraduate level, 5,274 at the graduate level, 367 at the non-degree students, and 2,093 on Optional Practical Training (OPT).
According to Wikipedia, OPT is a period during which undergraduate and graduate students work for one year on a student visa toward acquiring practical training to complement their education.
Nigeria is the only African country in the top 20 places of origin for international students in the U.S.
China holds the top position with 369,548 students, followed by India with 202,014, South Korea (52,250), Saudi Arabia (37,080), and Canada rounding out the top five with 26,122 students.
The report said international students account for 5.5 per cent of the total U.S. higher education population.
Citing data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the report said foreign students contributed 44.7 billion dollars to the U.S. economy in 2018, an increase of 5.5 per cent from the previous year.
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) are the top choices of international students with 52 per cent of the total studying in those fields, according to the report.
The report shows that out of 341,751 U.S. citizens studying abroad in 2017/18, Nigeria hosted 34 making it the 130th destination for American students.
The UK, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Ireland, China, Australia, Costa Rica, and Japan were the top 10 study destinations for American citizens, hosting an average of 18,000 students each.
South Africa occupies the 11th position on the table as host to 6,001 American students in 2017/18.
“We are happy to see the continued growth in the number of international students in the United States and U.S. students studying abroad,” said Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Speaking at the launch of the report in Washington, Ms Royce said promoting the mobility of international students remained a top priority for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
“We want even more students in the future to see the U.S. as the best destination to earn their degrees.
“International exchange makes our colleges and universities more dynamic for all students.
“Education at a U.S. institution can have a transformative effect for international students, just like study abroad experiences can for U.S. students,” she said.