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Quarter of International Students Worried About Gun Violence in US

As the number of international students enrolling in American institutions continues to decline, many schools and policymakers are looking into the factors that are contributing to such fall.

Some reports cite delay in issuing visas by the federal government while others blame prevailing political climate in the country as a reason for the decline. A new World Education News + Reviews (WES) report looked at several dimensions of international student experiences – including safety and security – and found a quarter of students worried about gun violence in the country.

Out of 1,921 international students surveyed for the report, 25 percent said that they are worried about gun violence at their institution, while 37 percent reported concerns about gun violence in local communities.

Lately, higher education institutions across the country have witnessed a decline in the enrollment numbers of international students. The 2018 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange saw a decline in the enrollment of international students for the third consecutive year.

Out of 540 institutions surveyed for the report, 49 percent reported a decline in new international student enrollment, 44 percent reported an increase, while enrollment at 7 percent of institutions remained the same.

Reports attribute this declining enrollment to various factors, including delays and denials of visas, changing preferences of international students, and the present political and social climate in the U.S.

The WES survey found perceptions of gun violence varying across the student’s region of origin. Students from Southeast Asia are most likely to be worried about gun violence both at their institution and the local community, followed by students from South and Central Asia, East Asia, and the Middle East/North Africa (MENA), who also express high levels of concern.

“Concerns about personal safety—particularly regarding the threat of gun violence—are growing among international students,” the report said.

“As institutions adapt their international enrollment management plans to cope with declining international enrollment, they must address this issue. Safety concerns threaten to not only slow future enrollment, but to diminish the experiences of current students.”

The report recommended many ways to protect and empower international students, which includes expansion of access to safe and affordable housing, transportation services and practices. It also called for educating students on local laws and customs, as well as their rights and responsibilities and sought interventions targeted at high-risk international student populations.

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