Rabat — During the 2018/19 academic year, the number of U.S. students coming to Morocco for study jumped by 24%, according to an annual report released Monday by the Institute of International Education, with support from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The annual report, called "Open Doors," showed that the number of U.S. students in Morocco in the 2018/19 academic year saw an increase from 1,411 to 1,749. Morocco was by far the most popular destination in North Africa for study among U.S. students, with Egypt in second place.
The report also showed that, in the 2019/2020 academic year, the number of Moroccan students studying in the United States increased by 2.6 percent, from 1,461 to 1,499.
"American students have long seen Morocco as an excellent destination for study because of the hospitality of the Moroccan people, the richness and diversity of Moroccan culture, and the strong ties of friendship between the United States and Morocco, built over 200 years," said U.S. Ambassador to Rabat, David Fischer, as quoted by a release of the US Embassy in Morocco.
"At the same time, Moroccans see that the U.S. higher education system offers the best educational opportunities in a range of critical disciplines, from engineering to medicine to English language study," the diplomat stated.
Ambassador Fischer added: "As our two countries work together to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic, we are sure that the educational exchange between our two countries will resume and even surpass the numbers we see in the 2020 Open Doors report."
According to the report, the small overall increase of Moroccans in the United States was driven by a jump in the number of Moroccans pursuing non-degree study in the United States, such as language courses, as well those staying in the United States beyond the end of their degree programs for "optional practical training," a program that allows students with an F-1 visa to gain real-world work experience related to their area of study.
The number of Moroccans studying in non-degree programs jumped from 80 to 130 in 2019, a 63% increase. The number of Moroccans pursuing optional practical training increased from 205 to 260, a 27% increase, it added.
The number of Moroccans pursuing graduate study in the United States increased slightly, from 412 to 422 (a 2.4% increase), while the total number of Moroccans in undergraduate degree programs fell from 764 to 687, a 10% decrease.
Overall, the Open Doors numbers revealed that, for the fifth consecutive year, the United States hosted more than one million international students (1,075,496.) Despite a slight decline (1.8%) in the number of international students in the United States during the 2019/2020 academic year, this group still represents 5.5 percent of all students in U.S. higher education.
The 2020 Open Doors report provides a critical baseline on the state of international educational exchange prior to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Statistics on U.S. students studying abroad lag the numbers on international students in the United States by a year because of the report's data collection methodology.