New surveys document nearly half of universities reported a drop in new international students this fall, including year-by-year drops in South Korean and Saudi Arabian international students traveling to the U.S., as well as a growth rate decrease in Indian international students enrolling in the U.S.
The survey utilized annual data from more than 2,000 colleges and universities as well as “snapshot” data from 500 institutions for the current semester.
The report, issued last week by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and Open Doors, backed by the U.S. Department of State, reported a 3.8 percent drop in South Korean students and a 14.2 drop for Saudi Arabian study abroad students.
The report went on to say that 186,267 Indian students were studying at US institutions in 2016-17. Year-by-year, this is a rise of 12.3 per cent. The percentage growth is low compared to a 24.9 and 29.4 percent growth rate in the previous two years.
After years of growth, the report states enrollments of international students at American universities started to flatten in fall 2016, but now nearly half of universities surveyed (45 percent) reported a drop in new international students this fall. 31 percent reported increases and 24 percent reported no change.
The overall drop in new students comes while a number of international education figures have expressed fear that President Trump could discourage some international students from enrolling at American universities. According to the survey, 68 percent of universities cited the visa application process or visa denials and delays as a reason for declining new enrollments, up 35 percentage points from last year.
Fifty-seven percent cited the social and political environment in the U.S. as reasons for declining enrollment, up 41 percentage points from last year. Other factors cited included the cost of tuition and fees (57 percent of respondents) and competition from universities in other countries (54 percent).
The US Department of Commerce stated in the Open Doors report Indian students contributed $6.5 billion to the US economy in 2016-17.
India was the second-leading place of origin for foreign students after China. Indian students comprised 17.3 per cent of the total international student population in the US.
Math, computer science and engineering remained the top choices of courses for 70 percent of Indian students traveling to the US.
The Open Doors report said that California remained the top receiving state of Indian students in 2016-17, followed by New York.
The report also pointed out that the number of US students in India in 2015-16 was at a five-year low, at 4,181.
“We encourage more inputs from Indian authorities in order to boost the number of American students in India,”Deputy Cultural Officer at the US Embassy Karl M. Adam said. “Obviously, we need more interaction between students of two countries.”
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