For two years in a row, the number of international students entering the U.S. to attend colleges and universities has decreased.
According to the Institute of International Education, the 2017-2018 school year’s enrollment declined 6.6 percent from the 2016-2017 year. The 2016-2017 year had also had a decline, enrollment falling 3.3 percent from 2015-2016.
Many different factors have contributed to this result. The most obvious factors are Trump’s hard-line stances on immigration, the numerous policy changes he has made in the immigration sector during these last two years of his presidency, and the heightened scrutiny the Trump administration is using to assess foreign students currently in the United States.
Other factors that deter international students from enrolling include the high cost of United States college tuition. When the same international students look to Canada and Europe, where the cost of tuition is significantly less than the United States, those students choose the lower expense.
According to the president of the Institute of International Education, Allan Goodman, the news of many mass shootings in the United States has also made students less likely to enroll.
Goodman said, “Everything matters from safety, to cost, to perhaps perceptions of visa policy…we’re not hearing that students feel they can’t come here. We’re hearing that they have choices. We’re hearing that there’s competition from other countries.”
Goodman also noted that these declines in enrollment are similar to the ones that came after 9/11.
Doug Rand, former Obama administration White House official, said that the United States under the Trump administration “is not a welcoming environment.” By Trump working to restrict skilled-worker visas and permanent residency, the path that many international students seek to take post-college, he is making international students hesitant to come to the United States.
Rand said, “It’s an act of willful ignorance to suggest that our immigration policies aren’t having a direct impact on foreign student enrollment.”
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