Fewer international students are coming to the United States. That’s hurting American universities and the economy.
The continued decline in international student enrollment since the fall of 2016 has cost the US economy $11.8 billion and more than 65,000 jobs, according to estimates from NAFSA:
Association of International Educators, an international association of professional educators.
“There’s many variables, but largely it’s been the policies and rhetoric from the current administration that’s really driven the numbers to move in that direction,” said Rachel Banks, director of public policy at NAFSA.
There’s a perception among international students that getting a visa for the United States is more difficult, and they increasingly feel unsafe in America, NAFSA survey data show.
“It’s not only the anti-immigrant rhetoric being expressed by this administration, there’s also increasing concern with regard to gun violence in this country,” said Banks. “There’s been a number of shootings and that gets reported worldwide, and parents certainly take all of this into account when they are thinking about where they want to send their children to study.”
New international student enrollments declined by 0.9% during the 2018-2019 academic year, following a 6.6% decline in new enrollments in the year prior, according to the most recent US Department of State Open Doors report. This marks the first time the United States has seen a three-year decline.
The Trump Administration has a different explanation for the lower enrollments. International students are discouraged by the high cost of US schools, said Caroline Casagrande, deputy assistant secretary for academic programs at the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural affairs. The Trump administration has made “more efforts than ever in outreach to international students,” and “to mitigate against the cost of education in the US,” Casagrande said in a call with reporters last week.