Fewer foreign students heading to the US: Survey

NEW YORK • The first new college class since the election of President Donald Trump has arrived on campus, and new numbers confirm what the higher education industry had feared: Fewer foreign students are coming to the United States.

The number of newly arriving international students declined an average 7 per cent this autumn, with 45 per cent of campuses reporting drops in new international enrolment, according to a survey of nearly 500 campuses across the country by the Institute of International Education.

Experts cited an uncertain social and political climate in the US as part of the reason for the decline in enrolment.

"It's a mix of factors," said Ms Rajika Bhandari, head of research for the institute, which collects data on international students in cooperation with the State Department.

"Concerns around the travel ban had a lot to do with concerns around personal safety based on a few incidents involving international students, and a generalised concern about whether they're safe."

Another reason for the decline is increasing competition from countries like Canada, Britain and Australia, said Mr Allan Goodman, president of the institute.

The figures released yesterday also included final numbers for 2016-2017, which show robust international enrolment, with a record 1.08 million international students in the US, an increase of 85 per cent from a decade earlier. Much of the record was driven by 175,000 students who have remained in the US after completing their degrees, in internship-type programmes known as "optional practical training".

The 2016-2017 figures, though, revealed that first-time international students dropped 3 per cent, indicating that the decline had begun before Mr Trump took office.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2017, with the headline 'Fewer foreign students heading to the US: Survey'. Subscribe