Nearly 14,000 foreign students studied in Utah in 2018

(Al Hartmann | Tribune file photo) Students at the University of Utah walk from classes to the Olpin Union Building for the first day of Fall 2015 classes. The U. attracts more foreign students than nearly all the other universities in Utah combined.

Utah’s colleges and schools hosted 13,917 nonimmigrant foreign students in 2018, roughly equivalent to the population of Millard County or the city of Bluffdale.

That was an increase of 199 students over the previous year, according to a report released Jan. 28 by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, an arm of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

About 1 of every 111 foreign students in the nation studied in Utah. About 1.55 million foreign students were in the United States that year, scattered among 8,936 schools.

Several Utah universities ranked in the top 500 for foreign students seeking higher education:

  • The University of Utah was No. 93 with 3,248.

  • Utah Valley University was No. 249 with 1,234.

  • Utah State University was No. 348 with 828.

  • Southern Utah University was No. 393 with 688.

  • Brigham Young University was No. 466 with 565.

About 85% of the foreign students nationally pursued higher education degree programs that year, while the rest attended kindergarten through grade 12 schools. Only four universities nationally enrolled more than 15,000 nonimmigrant foreign students: Columbia University (18,573), New York University (18,481), the University of Southern California (18,345) and Northeastern University in Boston (18,123).

Two Utah educational groups ranked in the top 200 nationally for K-12 schools hosting foreign students in 2018. Layton Christian Academy ranked No. 19 nationally with 234, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City was No. 51 with 144.

The report noted that most schools and colleges hosted relatively small numbers of foreign students. Two of every 3 schools hosted between only one and 50 foreign students.

Just four states — California, New York, Texas and Massachusetts — hosted half of all foreign students in the nation. California received 302,073 students (19.5% of the nation’s total); New York had 174,202 (11.2%); Texas had 102,380 (6.6%); and Massachusetts had 100,515 (6.5%).

Nationally, Asia remained the top continent of origin for nonimmigrant students with 1.17 million, or 3 of every 4 foreign students.

Individual countries that send the most students to America were China (478,732), India (251,290), South Korea (88,867), Saudi Arabia (62,205), Japan (39,396), Canada (38,998), Brazil (37,845), Vietnam (37,242), Taiwan (32,226) and Mexico (20,703).

Among foreign students in higher education courses, 8.9% were seeking associate degrees; 39.7% sought bachelor’s degrees; 37.9% were working on master’s degrees; and 13.5% sought doctorates.

Also in 2018, more than 145,000 foreign students received authorization for employment to work in pre- and post-completion “optional practical training” programs. About half of them worked in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.