A new report has seen the number of new international student enrollment to US institutions decline for the first time in 12 years
American institutions may have hosted over one million international students in 2016/17, however the overall number of new students enrolling in the USA has declined.
The new report by Open Doors suggests growth is slowing down. The overall increase was just 3% compared to previous years where there were increases between 7-10%.
Although the USA has been a firm favourite for many students looking to study abroad, it is the first time the number of newly enrolled students has declined in the 12 years Open Door have been reporting this data.
Many students are also choosing to go through Optional Practical Training (OPT) related to their academic field. This then retains them in higher education for longer, contributing to the total number.
What is it like studying in the US?
Yausra Abbas who studied in the USA, commented on these findings. She said, “I wouldn’t say that I am completely surprised with the drop of international students in the USA because of the Trump presidential win, and the overall unwelcoming feeling that international students might have when considering the USA as a destination. I remember my freshman year in the USA in 2008. We were all celebrating Obama’s win and America felt like the greatest place on earth to be.”
Abbas studied Political Science in New York City where described her time as a “wonderful experience.” She also enjoyed being part of a community, which embraced a variety of cultures and customs.
“One of my most memorable times in university was being a part of the International Student Organisation since my freshman year, where international students worked on all types of cultural events and promoted awareness of different ethnicities around campus. This helped us international students feel like part of the community and part of the progress of accepting other cultures in the USA,” she explained.
What has caused the decline in new enrolments?
Not only do international students bring diversity to a country, they’re crucial when it comes to the economy. In fact, the international student community at USA higher education institutions ‘contributed $36.9 billion to the US economy and supported 450,000 + jobs during the 2016/17 academic year,’ according to the latest NAFSA report.
Indian and Chinese students make up 50% of the total enrolment of international students in the US. However, Canada has emerged as the number one study destination among Indian students, pushing the USA down to second place.
Retaining top talent in a field of fierce competition is the challenge many countries have.
IIE President and CEO Allan Goodman told The Pie News, “as more countries become active hosts of international students and implement national strategies to attract them, the competition for top global talent in higher education and the workforce will only intensify.”
Another reason for the decline is the scaling back of large government scholarships in Saudi Arabia and Brazil. This has triggered big decreases in the number of students at all levels from these countries.
With a tense political climate and the growth of other regions looking to be a promising alternative, what should prospective students bear in mind if they still have their sights set on the USA?
Abbas says, “My advice to international students who want to study in the USA is to carefully examine the university and state options that best suits them and to preferably include ones that have other international students. Applying with an open mind is very important and having some expectations will help you once you arrive to adjust to the different environment you will encounter in the USA.”