News Mar 24th 2017

Recent drop in college applications in US

cartoon students

In February this year, international student recruiting firms Intead and FPP EDU Media conducted a survey of foreign students in 118 countries. The survey sought to shed light on potential foreign students' attitude to studying in the United States while Donald Trump is president. It found that that 60 percent said they were less likely to study under a Trump presidency. Students from Mexico reported feeling even less keen to study in the US: the study recorded an 80 percent less likelihood.

Indeed, there has been a notable drop in applications to study in the US that can be attributed to the travel ban issued by President Trump, which prevents people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from getting certain visas to enter the United States. Although the ban was stayed by the courts, it has left a lingering bad taste in the mouth of many students, not just from these predominantly Muslim countries. Applications from students from other parts of the world – notably China, India and the Middle East – have also dropped significantly.

Reasons for not studying in the United States

Where once universities and colleges in the US were considered very desirable places to study, the perception has changed under Trump.

Students, especially those from countries where Islam is the main religion, feel that they are not welcome by the people and American authorities. Many cite racial and religious incidents as proof and say they may feel unsafe, and it's just not worth the risk to their physical integrity.

Some are afraid of being suddenly deported and unable to complete their studies. They say they fear wasting their quite substantial financial investment in their futures if they are deported or if the situation is so tense that they are forced to leave.

Chinese students in particular, say they are afraid of more restrictive visas if the Trump presidency continues to raise tensions with their country over trade or other political issues.

Consequences of a drop in foreign students

By far the most significance effect of fewer foreign students is the loss of billions of dollars in income for American institutions of higher learning. Foreign students are not subsidized. They pay out of pocket tuition as well as state and international fees.

According to the Association of International Educators, the income generated by the one million foreign students in the United States in 2016 was $32 billion dollars.

This is an enormous loss to the higher education industry. The knock-on effects will be felt by cuts in programs of learning, as well as potential cuts in jobs. It is estimated that the industry supports more than 400,000 jobs. Loss of income will also affect native students' tuition fees, which are at present subsidized by the international fees that foreign students pay. This may make getting a college or university education for many Americans more difficult, or result in more student debt to pay back after graduation.

Apart from the financial benefits of having foreign students, they also add value in bringing diversity and different perspectives to universities. Native Americans are exposed to different cultures and opinions and ways of being. This will also be a significant loss to campus life.

How much international student attendance at American universities and colleges will drop in the coming years under president Donald Trump is impossible to determine right now. However, it is clear that numbers are dropping, and will continue to drop if foreign students feel unwelcome and unsafe. It will be up to the presidency to dispel those perceptions.

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