Universities and colleges across the U.S. are seeing a large shift in student demographics with more than 5.3 million of all enrolled college students coming from immigrant families, according to a new study reported by the New York Times.
The study, released on Thursday, showed that the percentage of first-generation and immigrant students increased from 20 percent in 2000 to nearly 30 percent in 2018. The surge has surpassed the growth of enrollment by U.S.-born students of parents who were also born in the United States.
Enrollment in higher education by immigrant and first-generation students has accounted for 58 percent of overall growth in student numbers over the 18 year period.
“In higher education, we are producing and training the future workforce. That future workforce has more students from immigrant families than previously understood,” Miriam Feldblum, executive director of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, told the Times.
A college education also ensures financial stability for many immigrant families, according to the Times.
“Accessing higher education enables immigrant students to achieve their dreams, and it becomes an economic and social mobility generator, benefiting themselves, their children and the country,” Feldblum told the Times.
Nearly 20,000 students from immigrant families in 32 states were reported to be pursuing a degree in higher education in 2018. The influx could offset the concern about future enrollment in American universities that often leans on international students, according to the Times.
Students coming to study in the United States on international visas accounted for 5.5 percent of all college enrollment during the 2018-2019 school year, the Times reported.
Children from immigrant families have been more likely to remain in the U.S. following college compared to international students, according to the report.