Students From Sub-Saharan African Nations at U.S. Colleges and Universities, 2021-22

According to the Institute of International Education’s latest annual Open Doors report, which provides detailed information on foreign students who come to U.S. colleges and universities, the level of foreign students coming to the United States has rebounded nearly to pre-pandemic levels. During the 2021-22 academic year, there were 948,519 students from foreign nations studying at U.S. colleges and universities.

During the 2021-22 academic year there were 42,518 students from sub-Saharan Africa enrolled at colleges and universities in the United States. They made up 4.5 percent of all foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities that year. This was the highest number of students from sub-Saharan Africa in history.

Among sub-Saharan African nations, Nigeria in 2021-22 sent the most students to American colleges and universities. That year, there were 14,438 Nigerians studying here, up by 12.3 percent from the previous year. In the 2013-14 academic year, there were just 7,921 Nigerian students at U.S. colleges and universities. Thus, over the past eight years, there has been an 82 percent increase in Nigerian students at American universities. The number of students from Nigeria this year is nearly three times the number of students from any other sub-Saharan African nation. Nigerians make up a more than third of all students from sub-Saharan Africa who studied in the United States in the 2021-22 academic year.

In 2021-22, Ghana ranked second, sending 4,916 students to the United States. The number of students from Ghana was up more than 16percent from the previous year. Kenya ranked third this year. The 3,799 students from Kenya was a slight increase from the previous year. Twenty years ago, Kenya sent nearly 8,000 students to study at U.S. colleges and universities.

Ethiopia, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Cote d’Ivoire each had more than 1,000 students studying in the United States. Cameroon and Uganda both sent more than 900 students to study at U.S. colleges and universities. Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola each sent more than 500 students to study abroad in the United States.

All told, more than 50 nations from sub-Saharan Africa had college students studying in the U.S. during the 2021-22 academic year.

Undoubtedly, some of these students from sub-Saharan Africa nations such as South Africa, and Zimbabwe are White, but there is no data to report on the racial or ethnic makeup of this group of African students at U.S. colleges and universities.

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