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.”


Applying For Admission

Applying to Australian institutions is easy, although it will take some time and careful planning. Remember that you can ask for help and advice from the institution you are applying to, your local Australian visa office and education agents in your home country.

Here is some advice to help with your course application:

Step 1: Choose your course and education provider
Step 2: Apply
Step 3: Have your application processed
Step 4: Accept your offer
Step 5: Prepare for departure

Step 1: Choose your course and education provider

Carefully research courses, institutions and their locations. Consider the areas of specialisation offered through different courses and which specializations will best suit your intended career path.

Once you have decided on the best course, you need to find out which education providers offer it and which provider best suits your requirements. You should consider the size of the campus, the available facilities and the support services offered for international students.

You can use the Course Search and Institution Search to help you research Australian education providers and the courses they offer, as well as make an enquiry.

Step 2: Apply

Once you have chosen your course and education provider, it is time to apply. Go to the Enquire Now  page to submit an enquiry directly to the institution of your choice.
Before you apply, you should check the academic and English language entry requirements to ensure you are eligible. If you do not meet the entry requirements, you may need to consider a different course or applying for a bridging course or foundation course, which may increase your chances. Contact your education provider and ask about their application requirements and deadlines, as these will differ for each provider. Make a note of important deadlines to make sure you meet them. Also remember to allow for postal times when sending forms by mail.
International students usually apply through education agents to Australian institutions. You will be provided application forms from partner institutions by your education consultant. Contact an education agent in your country or an overseas representative of the institution to which you are applying. Your application form will ask you which course(s) you are applying for and give you details of the documentation you need to supply.
Most application forms require you to supply:
  • your personal details
  • certified proof of your level of English language proficiency
  • details of your previous academic qualifications, such as academic transcripts
  • your course preferences  — the course(s) you are applying for
  • a summary of your employment experience (if applicable).
If you are still completing your education, you can usually provide evidence of your most recent marks until it is possible to provide your final results. If the documents you supply are not in English, you must provide an official certified translation. Most institutions charge a non-refundable application fee of around AUD$50 to $100 that must be included with your application. Some institutions waive this fee if the application is made online. Before sending your application, check your visa requirements with your local Australian visa office or online at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) website to ensure you will qualify for a student visa if your application is successful.
If, at any time during the application process, you are uncertain about how to proceed, don’t hesitate to contact your education provider — they are there to help you.

Step 3: Have your application processed

Once the education provider receives your application it will be assessed and you will be notified of the result. It may take a few weeks (longer for postgraduate applications) before your application is processed.

Step 4: Accept your offer

If your application is accepted, you will receive a letter of offer and an acceptance form. Before accepting the offer, you should carefully read the letter of offer and check any conditions that may apply. You will need to meet these conditions before the institution issues a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). You may also be required to pay tuition fees before your institution issues a CoE. The institution will advise you of its requirements.

Step 5: Prepare for departure

Now that you have been accepted, it is time to apply for your student visa. You are able to apply for your student visa using either your letter of offer or your CoE, but you will need to supply evidence of your CoE before your student visa is granted. See Student Visas for more information. You must also purchase your plane tickets, organise your Overseas Student Health Cover and arrange your accommodation in Australia.

Your education provider will typically send you an admissions package with information that will help you prepare for your journey to Australia. This might include information about your course and accommodation options, facts about the location, financial information and details about orientation programs.


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