U.S. Colleges are Seeing Declines in Applications from International Students

visaAccording to Inside Higher Ed, nearly 40 percent of U.S. colleges are seeing declines in applications from international students.  The article attributes the drop to “a great deal of concern” from students and their families about visas, perceptions of a less welcoming climate in the U.S., and the changes to the H-1B skilled worker visa program.

The highest reported declines involved applications from the Middle East. Thirty-nine percent of universities reported declines in undergraduate applications from the Middle East, while 31 percent reported declines in graduate applications. Fall enrollment numbers from the region will likely be hard hit by President Trump’s executive order barring entry by nationals of six countries from the Middle East and Africa -- including Iran, the 11th-leading country of origin for international students in the U.S. But it's also worth noting that the number of students from Saudi Arabia, the third-leading country of origin, had already been dropping prior to the presidential election, a decline many colleges attributed to changes in the Saudi government’s foreign scholarship program. The number of Saudi students in the U.S. fell by nearly 20 percent in fall 2016 compared to the fall before, according to student visa data.

Many universities responding to the survey also reported drops in applications from China and India, respectively the top two countries from which international students in the U.S. hail. The two countries, together, account for nearly half of all international students in the U.S.

This is an edited version of a story by Elizabeth Redden that appears on Inside Higher Ed.

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