URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The University of Illinois recently announced that international enrollment in the fall of 2022 set records in both the COVID era and for all time.

The exact number of international students enrolled at the university in the fall was 11,548, which topped the previous record of 10,826 that was set in 2017. Martin McFarlane, Director of International Student and Scholar Services, said 126 countries are represented by these students, with 87% of students coming from Asia.

China led the way with 5,464 students, just under half of all international students. India was the second-most represented country with 2,395 students, a national all-time high, followed by South Korea (899), Taiwan (463) and Indonesia (122).

The continent of Africa also set a new record for representation in Champaign-Urbana. 231 students are from African countries, 105 of whom are from Nigeria alone. It’s the first time an African nation had more than 100 students enrolled at U of I at a given time.

“This year, we are seeing numbers not just return to pre-pandemic levels but in many categories, exceeding them,” McFarlane said.

The record-breaking numbers come as the university finishes its recovery from an enrollment decline as a result of the pandemic. International enrollment plummeted to 7,674 in the fall of 2020, compared to 10,610 the previous year. In the two academic years since, international enrollment rebounded to 9,841 in the fall of 2021 and the record 11,548 last fall.

The university added that, although international student enrollment has increased, the number of international faculty and staff on campus has decreased to its lowest number since ISSS started keeping track in 2005. McFarlane said this is also a result of the pandemic.

China, India and South Korea were again ranked in the top three with 289, 192, and 107 faculty and staff members, respectively.