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Visualizing the origins of MIT’s international students

“Like the United States, and thanks to the United States, MIT gains tremendous strength by being a magnet for talent from around the world. Faculty, students, post-docs and staff from 134 other nations join us here because they love our mission, our values and our community.” -L.Rafael Reif, MIT President

The MIT Senseable City Lab recently analyzed nearly 20 years of ethnographic student data in order to visualize the origins of its international faculty, students, and researchers from 1999 to the present.

The above chart may be a bit small (larger version here), but it shows all students (undergraduate, graduate, and visiting/others) by country. The top 5 countries are China, India, Canada, South Korea, and France.

To give you some sense of the math, there are 3,808 international students at MIT as of 2017. 888 of them alone are from China – mostly at the graduate level (688 out of the 888). So China represents almost ¼ of MIT’s international student population.

Another thing that stood out for me was the drop off in Canadians in 2009. You can see that “V” roughly in the middle of the chart. Canada went from 233 to 144 students. I wonder if this had something to do with the economic climate at the time. Not sure.

Click here to see all of the visualizations. 

Note that you can toggle by region and country, as well as by “Trump’s EO Countries.” That feature, as well as the quote at the beginning of this post, should give you an immediate appreciation for some of the motivations behind this exercise.

Images: MIT Senseable City Lab

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