Study finds enrollment of new international students in US declining

Study finds enrollment of new international students in US declining
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A study finds that the number of new international students enrolling at U.S. colleges and universities has dropped.

The number of new students from abroad dropped three percent for the 2016-17 school year and seven percent for the 2017-18 school year, according to the 2017 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange.


Over 2,000 schools participated in the survey, which was released Monday. It was published by the Institute of International Education, a nonprofit educational exchange group and funded by a grant from the State Department.

Overall, though, the study found that the number of international students in the U.S. as well as the number of Americans studying abroad went up in the 2016-17 school year. That, despite the drop in new students, is attributed to the large number of international students already studying in the U.S.

“We are maintaining the U.S. longstanding position as the world's top host nation for international students,” Alyson Grunder, a State Department official in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, said. “We see that as a testament to the unmatched quality of American higher education in the eyes of international students and their families.”

The top ten states hosting international students reported an increase in enrollments in 2016-17, but the overall number of new enrollments fell due to a complex series of factors, according to a survey of more than 500 schools.

Rajika Bhandari, head of research, policy and practice at the Institute of International Education (IIE), said that “concerns around the travel bans” are one factor likely reducing new enrollments.

President Trump signed a series of controversial executive orders blocking travel from certain Muslim-majority countries, which are facing legal challenges. Higher education groups have strongly opposed the orders.

Other factors for the decline revealed by the study include stronger competition from universities in other countries and increasing costs for higher education in the U.S.

“Foreign families have always saved a great deal of money to demonstrate that they can afford it and they put a huge family premium on doing that," IIE president Allan Goodman said. “But our prices are now rising at levels that people setting aside money are beginning to look for alternatives, and that, we're going to watch very closely in the future.”

The study estimated that international students contributed $39.4 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016.