International Student Enrollment in American Universities Slows Down
Thu, April 22, 2021

International Student Enrollment in American Universities Slows Down

International student enrollment in American universities is falling and it’s costing the US economy billions of dollars, reported CNN / Photo by: Nick Allen via Wikimedia Commons

 

International student enrollment in American universities is falling and it’s costing the US economy billions of dollars, reported CNN, an American news-based pay television channel.

 

The Decline Hurting the US Economy

The decline in the number of international students enrolled started in the fall of 2016 and has since then hurt not only the American universities but the country’s economy as a whole. It has cost the economy $11.8 billion and more than 65,000 jobs based on the estimate provided by nonprofit NAFSA: Association of International Educators. While several variables caused the drop in the number of enrollees, it has been largely attributed to the policies of the current administration, said NAFSA’s director of public policy Rachel Banks.

NAFSA data also showed that there has been a perception among international students that obtaining a US study visa has become more difficult today than it was previously. It is likewise not just because of the anti-immigrant concerns expressed by the country’s current administration but also the concerns relating to gun violence. Worldwide, there have been various shooting incidents that occurred and parents are taking such into account before they decide to send their kids to other places to study, especially in American schools where a lot of these shootings have taken place.

Some Still Study in the US

Oregon-based news provider KDRV reported that at Southern Oregon University, there are only less than 5% of international students. So, they spoke with these students, who explained why they still decided to study in the US. Many of them said that getting an education in the US is still “worth it.” 

Shirley Hu, for instance, has been studying accounting at SOU. While she was originally from China, she became an international student in the US since high school. She believed that the new experience allowed her to understand how other people and cultures are thinking about the world.  She added that when people have stayed in one particular place for a long time, they sometimes forget how big the world is. This is her realization when she took the plane and studied in the US, becoming more aware of how different people can be.

SOU’s senior executive for equity and diversity Suresh Appavoo also said that universities in the US have earned a good reputation around the world. This is the reason why many foreign students still prefer to study there. It’s like getting a boost when they go back home because they earned a degree in the US.

Oregon-based news provider KDRV reported that at Southern Oregon University, there are only less than 5% of international students / Photo by: ASSIST, Inc. via Wikimedia Commons

 

Cost of American Education

The Trump administration, however, does not believe that it is about concerns over gun violence on why the international student enrollment declined but due to the high cost of US schools. The US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ deputy assistant secretary for academic programs Caroline Casagrande explained that the administration has now made more efforts to reach out to more international students. The Trump administration has also found ways to mitigate the cost of obtaining an education in America.

The declining enrollment has affected several universities in the US financially. The California State University Northridge, for example, experienced a 26% revenue loss or about $6.5 million because of the decline in the number of international students between 2016 and 2019.

The State Department data likewise revealed that the number of F-1 visas (student) issued to foreigners seeking to attend other types of academic institutions or colleges in the US decreased by 17% in 2017. In 2016, 471,728 F-1 visas were issued but in 2017, it was only 393,573. The biggest decline in visa application approvals in 2017 were from Asian countries, particularly India and China. Many began to wonder whether they would be welcomed in the US if they applied for the visa.

NAFSA noted that three jobs in the US are created for every seven international students. It has also affected other sectors, such as transportation, retail, dining, and accommodation. Currently, there are more than 1 million international students enrolled in US universities and colleges. These people have contributed to about $41 billion to the economy and have supported a total of 458,290 jobs in 2018 to 2019 academic year.

The Trump administration, however, does not believe that it is about concerns over gun violence on why the international student enrollment declined but due to the high cost of US schools / Photo by: Jawed Karim via Wikimedia Commons

 

International Students by Origin

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an intergovernmental economic organization with 36 member countries founded to stimulate economic progress and world trade, revealed that international students enrolled in the US in 2017 came from Canada (27, 800), Mexico (16,414), Brazil (12,357), Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (8,109), Columbia (7,436), Peru (3,104), Ecuador (2,993), Jamaica (2,937), and the Bahamas (2,514). The number of students mentioned by OECD represents those who enrolled in tertiary education.

Student mobility or the opportunity for students to work or study abroad while undertaking their degree program can be improved by considering the demographic, technological, political, and economic changes. Strict immigration policies will cause a decline in applicants. If the US wants to continue to stream international students, it should not only promote its international education but should see the bigger picture when it comes to student recruitment. Canadian colleges and institutes, for instance, have created an environment where international students can feel "at home" while they are in a different country.