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US university admissions officers concerned for nationwide international student decline

Nov 7, 2017

According to a recent Kaplan Test Prep survey of nearly 400 admissions officers from a diverse range of colleges and universities across the United States, 63 percent are concerned about a decline in international applicants becoming a nationwide trend*. But while admissions officers are concerned about what the decline would mean for higher education in general, only 32 percent anticipate a decline in the number of international applicants to their own schools.

College admissions officers who expressed concern about the larger possible trend of fewer international students shared the following anecdotes, citing both cultural and financial reasons:

  • “I think it’s more of a loss for all prospective students, not just international students. Students who would have had the opportunity to learn from different students with different upbringings and cultural backgrounds won’t have this.”
  • “International students provide a different kind of atmosphere on campus. Many of our U.S.-born students can’t travel overseas, so this is a way for them to meet others from diverse backgrounds.”
  • “We survive on this program. We rely on these students coming into the country.”
  • “It’s something we worry about. We want students to come without barriers.”

Admissions officers unconcerned about fewer international students cited shared the following:

  • “The safety of our country is more important than international students coming to get an education.”
  • “Not concerned. I think there are a lot of colleges who utilize international students just for full paying tuition and not for the right reasons.”
  • “A lot of the major universities have campuses around the world. Even if there were a decline of international students coming directly to campuses in America, any school that has campuses outside of America will not notice a difference because students will just go to that campus.”
  • “There’s a separation between political climate and the education system in the U.S. We don’t think one will influence the other.”

Additionally, more than one quarter of admissions officers (28 percent) say they are concerned about their school losing American and international students to colleges in Canada and elsewhere.

According to the Institute of International Education, a nonprofit that promotes international education and education access around the globe, just over 1 million international students were studying in the United States in the 2015-2016 academic year, a record high and seven percent increase over the previous year. The largest sources of international students are China, India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Canada. While international students represent just 5 percent of all students in the United States, some top colleges and universities boast of international populations of 15 percent or higher.

“A majority of colleges are concerned that the current environment is causing a decline in applications from international students across the country, though interestingly, only a third anticipate the decline happening at their own schools. Colleges recognize that today’s political climate presents unique challenges and are likely adjusting their recruitment strategies accordingly,” says Yariv Alpher, Executive Director, Market Research, Kaplan Test Prep. “But notably, there is a broad range of opinions across schools nationwide, which represent the diversity of views that most colleges seek to cultivate on their own campuses.”

For a short video illustrating the survey results, visit here.

Source: Business Wire Press Release, November 2017