U.S. Institutions Report Declines in New International Students

Two recent reports from the Institute of International Education (IIE) show a decline in new international student enrollment at American universities, reports Inside Higher Ed. 

The reports are: "Open Doors," a comprehensive annual survey of more than 2,000 institutions that reports international enrollment data on a one-year delay, and a "Snapshot" survey of about 500 institutions that reported on their current international enrollment numbers this semester.

The Open Doors report found that enrollment of international students at American universities started to flatten in fall 2016, Inside Higher Ed reported. The "Snapshot" survey found that nearly half of the universities surveyed reported an average decline in new international students this fall of 7 percent.

Among institutions that responded to the survey, 68 percent cited the visa application process or visa denials and delays as a reason for declining new enrollments, up 35 percentage points from last year, and 57 percent cited the social and political environment in the U.S., up 41 percentage points from last year, Inside Higher Ed reported. Other factors cited included the cost of tuition and fees (57 percent of respondents also cited this) and competition from universities in other countries (54 percent).

The overall picture is mixed, Inside Higher Ed reported, and enrollment trends vary according to selectivity, type and geographic location of a given university. 

Open Doors shows a 3.4 increase in total international students at American institutions in 2016-17, bringing the total number of students to 1,0787,822. However, the number of new international students decreased for the first time in the six years Open Doors has been reporting new enrollments, falling by 3.3 percent compared to the previous year.

The top three countries of origin for international students in the United States were China, India, and South Korea. The top three fields of study for international students in the United States in 2016-17 were engineering, business and management, and math and computer science.

The reports found that the number of American students studying abroad has increased. IIE estimates that 15.5 percent of bachelor's students and 10.4 percent of all undergraduate students now participate in study abroad during their degree program.


Related Links

Open Doors Report


Inside Higher Ed