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International Students Enrollment Declines for Record Fourth Year


Higher education institutions continue to see a decline in the enrollment of international students for the fourth consecutive year, according to the 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange.

The new international student enrollment in 2018-19 saw a decrease of 0.9 percent. The percentage of new international student enrollments began to tumble in 2015. In 2017-18 they fell by 7 percent.

The total number of international students in the United States saw a slight change of 0.05 percent. In the 2017-18 academic year, the U.S. had 1,094,792 international students, while during 2018-19 the number increased to 1,095,299.

The number of students enrolled in undergraduate programs declined by 2.4 percent to 431,930, and the number in graduate programs declined by 1.3 percent to 377,943. Those in non-degree programs declined by 5.0 percent to 62,341.

According to NAFSA estimates, between fall 2016 and fall 2017, the drop in enrollments cost the U.S. economy more than 40,000 jobs and $5.5 billion.

“Promoting international student mobility remains a top priority for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and we want even more students in the future to see the United States as the best destination to earn their degrees,” Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs said.

“International exchange makes our colleges and universities more dynamic for all students and an education at a U.S. institution can have a transformative effect for international students, just like study abroad experiences can for U.S. students,” Royce added.

Six out of the top ten U.S. states hosting international students also recorded a negative change between -3.0 to -0.2, including in California, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. Nearly 500 higher education institutions participated in the survey.

Reports attribute various reasons to the declining trend of international enrollments among which visa delays and denials tops the list, followed by the social and political environment, cost of tuition among others.

Engineering tops the choice of fields of study for more than 230,000 international students, followed by Math and Computer Science, Business and Management, Social Sciences, Physical and Life Sciences
 and others.

Despite the U.S.-China trade war and increased surveillance over Chinese students, the country still tops the list of places of origin of international students followed by India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Canada.

Declining International Students Enrollment Affects US Economy

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