Inflation blamed for decline in SA students choosing to study in USA

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The number of South African students who chose to pursue studies in the US has slightly declined in the 2020-2021 academic year compared to the previous year, and the high inflation rate could be the reason.

Education search platform reported that about 2 079 South African students chose the US as their study destination – indicating 145 fewer students than the previous year.

In the 2019-2020 academic year, a total of 2 224 South African students enrolled in US universities.

Of the 2 079 studying in the US during the 2020-2021 academic year, 1 201 participated in undergraduate programmes, 540 students in graduate programmes, 43 in non-degree programmes, and 295 were involved in Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Representative at Erudera, Alma Miftari said the high inflation rate could be one of the reasons behind the slight drop in the number of South African students enrolled in US universities.

“The high prices are leading to drops in enrolments. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, undergraduate enrolment declined noticeably from fall 2019 to fall 2021, resulting in a net loss of a million students worldwide,” Miftari said.

She added that “colleges have slashed payrolls, laying off hundreds of thousands of faculty and staff” due to the decline.

Erudera found that studying in the US could cost international students between $25 000 (about R425 000 ) and $35 000 a year at public universities, while private colleges could charge between $30 000 and $45 000 on average.

The report found that the US has generated an average of $72 765 000 from the 2079 South African students if they spent these fees.

The Institute for International Education’s new Open Doors report found that in the 2020-21 academic year, there were 39 061 students from sub-Saharan Africa enrolled at colleges and universities in the US – meaning that the US generated more than $1 billion from students from sub-Saharan African countries last academic year.

On the other hand, the latest statistics from Unesco indicate that 768 students from the US chose South Africa as their study destination.


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