SEOUL-- The number of North Korean students studying in the United States has sharply decreased amid the extreme tension between the two countries from the North's nuclear and missile provocations, a U.S. broadcaster said Tuesday.

As of the end of August, the figure stood at eight, down 10 from a year before, Radio Free Asia said, citing an annual report of the U.S.-based Institute of International Education.

Of the eight, seven were studying for bachelor's degrees and one was in a nondegree course, the broadcaster said.

In the previous year, 18 North Koreans studied at American universities, with 16 of them in bachelor's degree courses, seven in doctorate courses and one in a nondegree course, according to the broadcaster.

"The students are believed to be pro-North Koreans residing in Japan or North Koreans invited by U.S. faculty or research institutes," the broadcaster said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency