Thursday, July 2, 2015

Popular Degrees: What Fields Are Nepalese Students Pursuing?

By Jordan Friedman
World Education Services
Graphic by Brittney Bodden

The population of Nepalese students in the United States has declined steadily in the past five years. But overall, Nepal has become a more attractive country for international recruitment as its literacy rate and education system improve.

According to the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors Report, in 2014, the U.S. saw an 8.6 percent decrease in the number of Nepalese students in the U.S. from the previous year, down to about 8,100 – a somewhat large drop from the approximately 11,500 Nepalese students in the U.S. back in 2009. A WES report from March 2013 attributes this decline to changing visa policies in the United States, with the number of F-1 visas issued to Nepali students falling 71 percent between 2009 and 2012. Still, Nepal’s educational system has improved in the last four decades – the country has more than doubled its literacy rate – making it a more attractive region from which the U.S. can recruit students.

Nepal has become seen as a market with high potential for STEM student recruitment, especially at the graduate level. A majority of Nepalese students – about 65 percent – pursue STEM fields of study: science, technology, engineering and math. To break it down even further, most of the Nepalese students who pursue STEM fields focus on physical and life sciences. Engineering, math and computer science, and health professions follow, in that order.

After STEM, the second most popular degree among Nepalese students is business/management, with almost 16 percent of them pursuing these degrees. In addition, 7.6 percent of Nepalese students fall into the “other” category in terms of their major, while 5.2 percent pursued social sciences in 2014. The least common majors among Nepalese students in 2014 were education, fine/applied arts, humanities and intensive English.

So, while the number of students from Nepal in the U.S. has declined in the past five years, it’s still seen as a valuable region for U.S. college recruiters – especially when it comes to STEM.

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