Sub-Saharan African Nations Sending the Most Scholars to Teach at U.S. Colleges and Universities

The Institute for International Education’s new Open Doors report finds that in the 2020-21 academic year, there were 85,538 foreign scholars teaching at American colleges and universities. The number of foreign scholars was down more than 30 percent from the previous year due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The vast majority of these foreign scholars were from either Europe or Asia.

In the 2020-21 academic year, there were 1,483 scholars from sub-Saharan African nations teaching at U.S. colleges and universities. This was down more than 24 percent from the previous academic year. In the 2007-2008 academic year, there were 2,750 scholars from sub-Saharan Africa teaching at U.S. colleges and universities. Foreign scholars from sub-Saharan Africa made up only 1.7 percent of all foreign scholars teaching in the U.S. in the 2020-21 academic year.

In the 2020-21 academic year, Nigeria sent 394 scholars to teach in the U.S., more than any other sub-Saharan African nation. The number of scholars from Nigeria was down by only 11 percent from the previous year. Ghana ranked second with 169 scholars teaching in the U.S. Kenya had 129 scholars teaching in the United States and Ethiopia had 128.

South Africa ranked fifth overall with 117 scholars teaching in the United States. In past years, South Africa had ranked in second place in terms of the number of its scholars teaching in the U.S. It must be noted, too, that in all probability, some of these South African scholars are White.

Among other sub-Saharan African nations, Uganda and Cameroon were the only other countries to send as many as 70 scholars to teach at U.S. colleges and universities. Zimbabwe had 65 scholars teaching at U.S. institutions of higher education.

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