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Executive Summary

Despite the increasing number of refugee students, both globally and in the U.S., there is a significant lack of data concerning their pathways to higher education. To effectively understand the presence of refugee students on college campuses and support their educational success, we must bridge these data gaps. In response, the Presidents’ Alliance and Duolingo English Test released Mapping the Refugee Student Population in U.S. Higher Education Report. Using the latest Open Doors data, the report will also explore the number of F-1 international students studying in the U.S. in 2022/23 who are potentially refugee and displaced students.

Data Highlights from the Report

  • There is no systematic process for gathering and reporting data on refugee students on U.S. campuses.  
  • To establish an initial estimate, the report focuses on refugee students abroad who seek to come to the U.S. to pursue their studies.  While refugee students are not usually delineated within broader international student or other institutional data sets, estimating the number of refugee students among the international student population will set a baseline for future, fuller estimates of the number of postsecondary refugee students in the U.S.
  • With data compiled from the OECD, UNHCR, the U.S. government, and Open Doors datasets, the report estimates that, based on 2022/23 data, upwards of 54,060 F-1 students in the United States are in the potential pool of refugee students in the U.S. 
  • These students come from 22 countries of origin and also include the small number of international students categorized as stateless in 2022.  
  • This potential pool of students constitute approximately 5% of the total international student population in the U.S. during the 2022/23 academic year.

Read the full report below.

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