U.S. universities report declines in enrollments of recent worldwide college students; research overseas participation will increase

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After years of development, enrollments of worldwide college students at American universities began to flatten in fall 2016, and a downward development in new enrollments seems to be accelerating this tutorial yr, with practically half of universities surveyed (45 %) reporting a drop in new worldwide college students this fall.

Those are the headline findings of two worldwide enrollment surveys launched right now: “Open Doors,” a complete annual survey of greater than 2,000 faculties and universities that stories worldwide enrollment numbers on a one-year delay, and a “snapshot” survey of about 500 establishments that reported on their worldwide enrollment numbers for the present semester. The establishments that responded to the snapshot survey reported a mean decline in new worldwide college students this fall of seven %.

While there are many variables that have an effect on worldwide enrollments, the drop in new college students comes at a time when many in worldwide schooling have expressed fears that the rhetoric and insurance policies of President Trump might discourage some worldwide college students from enrolling at U.S. establishments. Among establishments that responded to the survey, 68 % cited the visa software course of or visa denials and delays as a cause for declining new enrollments, up 35 share factors from final yr, and 57 % cited the social and political atmosphere within the U.S., up 41 share factors from final yr. Other elements cited included the price of tuition and charges (57 % of respondents additionally cited this) and competitors from universities in different nations (54 %).

However, regardless of the 7 % drop in new worldwide college students, the general image for this fall is combined and suggests a divergence of traits relying on the selectivity, sort and geographic location of a given college.

While 45 % of establishments responding to the snapshot survey reported declines in new worldwide college students, 31 % reported will increase and 24 % reported no change. Of these reporting decreases in new worldwide college students, the common lower was 20 %. Of these reporting will increase, the common improve was 5 %.

The most selective universities — those who admit lower than 1 / 4 of candidates — continued to report development in new worldwide pupil enrollments. The steepest declines in new worldwide enrollments had been reported by grasp’s-level establishments, the place new worldwide enrollments are down by 20 %, and at badociate-level establishments, the place they’re down 19 %. Institutions in the course of the nation — together with the West South Central area, which incorporates Texas — noticed steeper declines in new enrollments than did establishments on the East and West coasts (see map under).

Map breaks the United States into nine regions and shows change in international enrollment for each. For Pacific region, which includes Alaska and Hawaii, enrollments were down 7 percent. For Mountain region, enrollments were down 16 percent. For West North Central region, enrollments were down 16 percent. For East North Central Region, enrollments were down 9 percent. For Mid-Atlantic region, enrollments were down 3 percent. For New England, enrollments were up 2 percent. For South Atlantic region, enrollments were down 4 percent. For East South Central region, enrollments were down 1 percent. For West South Central region, enrollments were down 20 percent.

Total worldwide enrollments haven’t fallen, buoyed up as they’re by college students already within the U.S. larger schooling pipeline. But the declines in new worldwide enrollments will probably be trigger for concern for a lot of universities which have counted on development in worldwide college students — and the tutoring income they carry — to badist stability their budgets.

The “Open Doors” survey additionally stories on the variety of American college students learning overseas. In that area, universities proceed to report regular development. In 2015-16, 325,339 American college students studied overseas for tutorial credit score, a rise of three.Eight % over the earlier tutorial yr.

“Open Doors” on International Enrollments

The “Open Doors” knowledge, which replicate enrollments for the final tutorial yr, not this one, present a Three.four % improve in complete worldwide pupil enrollments at American faculties and universities in 2016-17 in comparison with the yr earlier than, bringing the overall variety of worldwide faculty college students within the U.S. to 1,078,822.

Though a slowdown in comparison with the expansion charges seen within the six years prior, Three.four % continues to be development. However, what shall be worrisome for a lot of faculties is the truth that the variety of new worldwide college students decreased for the primary time within the six years that Open Doors has been reporting new enrollments, falling by Three.Three % in comparison with the earlier yr.

Drilling down by tutorial stage helps to clarify the top-level traits. In 2016-17 the variety of worldwide college students elevated by a modest 2.7 % and 1.9 % on the undergraduate and graduate ranges, respectively, and fell by 14.2 % on the nondegree stage — a clbad that features intensive English applications, which many college students enroll in previous to coming into degree-granting applications.

The quickest fee of development by far was within the variety of college students who’re taking part in non-compulsory sensible coaching (OPT), a quantity that grew by 19.1 % in 2016-17 in comparison with the prior yr.

While people on OPT are categorised as college students for visa functions, and stay on their college’s sponsorship, they aren’t actually college students in any respect within the conventional sense, as they’ve already graduated from their diploma applications and are actually pursuing employment. Under an extension of the OPT program that went into impact in May 2016, college students with levels in science, expertise, engineering and arithmetic fields can now spend as much as three years working within the U.S. on OPT after they graduate (college students with levels in non-STEM fields are eligible for a one-year OPT time period).

“What we’re really seeing is this sort of bulge in the system. A lot of students who began their studies in the U.S. have remained under the sponsorship of their institutions for longer because of the OPT extension, while at the same time the numbers of enrolled students haven’t increased at the same pace,” mentioned Rajika Bhandari, head of badysis, coverage and observe on the Institute of International Education, which publishes the annual “Open Doors” survey with funding from the U.S. State Department.

“Then if you add to this the discovering on the drop in new enrollments, all of that put collectively actually factors to the truth that the numbers of worldwide college students coming to the U.S. are starting to flatten. I’d interpret this as in no way a disaster, however actually extra of a wake-up name the place that is the start of a flattening development and there’s loads that establishments and others may be doing to nonetheless flip this round,” Bhandari mentioned.

In 2016-17, U.S. universities reported will increase within the variety of college students from China (up 6.Eight %) and India (up 12.Three %) — two nations that collectively account for about half of all worldwide college students within the U.S. However, the variety of college students from two different key supply nations, South Korea and Saudi Arabia, dropped. The 14.2 % decline within the variety of college students from Saudi Arabia was particularly notable and is probably going attributable to strikes to reduce and retool the Saudi authorities’s overseas scholarship program, which has despatched large numbers of scholars to U.S. universities lately. The variety of college students from Brazil additionally declined by 32.four %, following an 18.2 % decline the yr earlier than, reflecting the wind-down of one other giant overseas scholarship program sponsored by the Brazilian authorities.

Top 15 Countries of Origin for International Students within the U.S.

















Country of Origin Number of Students in 2016-17 Percent Change From 2015-16
1. China 350,755 +6.Eight%
2. India 186,267 +12.Three%
Three. South Korea 58,663 -Three.Eight%
four. Saudi Arabia 52,611 -14.2%
5. Canada 27,065 +Zero.Three%
6. Vietnam 22,438 +four.Eight%
7. Taiwan 21,516 +1.Eight%
Eight. Japan 18,780 -1.5%
9. Mexico 16,835 +Zero.6%
10. Brazil 13,089 -32.four%
11. Iran 12,643 +Three%
12. Nigeria 11,710 +9.7%
13. Nepal 11,607 +20.1%
14. United Kingdom 11,489 -Zero.9%
15. Turkey 10,586 -1%

The prime three fields of research for worldwide college students within the U.S. in 2016-17 had been engineering — college students in engineering fields accounted for 21.four % of all worldwide college students within the U.S. — enterprise and administration (18.6 %) and math and laptop science (15.5 %). The most notable change in line with discipline of research was the large drop in intensive English enrollments, down 25.9 %.

Note, all of the numbers within the charts instantly above and under are for the 2016-17 tutorial yr. For extra numbers from this fall, learn on to the subsequent subhead.

International Students within the U.S. by Field of Study















Field of Study Number of International Students, 2016-17 Percent Change From 2015-16
1. Engineering 230,711 +6.four%
2. Business and administration 200,754 +Zero.2%
Three. Math and laptop science 167,180 +18%
four. Social sciences 83,046 +2.1%
5. Physical and life sciences 76,838 +1.9%
6. Fine and utilized arts 61,506 +Three%
7. Health professions 34,395 +1.Three%
Eight. Intensive English 30,309 -25.9%
9. Communications and journalism 21,913 +Three.6%
10. Education 17,993 -7.6%
11. Humanities 17,561 -Zero.6%
12. Legal research and legislation enforcement 15,306 +1.5%
13. Agriculture 12,602 +2.Three%

Fall Snapshot Data

Simultaneous with the discharge of “Open Doors,” IIE launched the outcomes of the “snapshot” survey it performed in partnership with 9 different larger schooling teams on this fall’s worldwide enrollments. Once once more, the schools that responded to the survey reported a mean drop of seven % in new worldwide enrollments, however their complete worldwide enrollments remained flat as current college students stayed within the pipeline, together with on OPT.

The survey doesn’t disaggregate the enrollment modifications by nation of origin, however 71 % of establishments mentioned they had been involved about recruiting college students from China for subsequent fall and 68 % mentioned the identical about India. Seventy-six % of establishments mentioned they’re involved about enrolling worldwide college students from the Middle East and North Africa, a discovering that IIE says is probably going resulting from considerations in regards to the reductions within the Saudi scholarship program and journey restrictions for the area. A 3rd model of the Trump administration’s journey ban, at the moment halted by the courts, would bar all journey from North Korea and Syria and impose various restrictions or larger vetting requirements for vacationers coming from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen (it might additionally bar sure Venezuelan authorities officers and their households from approaching enterprise and vacationer visas).

New enrollments of worldwide college students began to say no final fall previous to the election of President Trump. But some faculty directors are nervous that the present political and social local weather might contribute to preserving some college students away. Hundreds of universities have joined a marketing campaign aimed towards potential worldwide college students referred to as “#YouAreWelcomeHere” to counter considerations about xenophobia and perceptions about private security within the U.S.

Fifty-two % of universities responding to the snapshot survey mentioned that worldwide college students have cited the U.S. social and political local weather as a possible deterrent to learning within the U.S. However, solely 20 % of establishments mentioned that worldwide college students have expressed a want to depart or have left the U.S. because of this local weather. Eight % reported an incident on campus or locally that focused worldwide college students in a destructive method.

Study Abroad

The variety of American college students learning overseas has trended steadily upward. The Three.four % development fee within the variety of American college students learning overseas in 2015-16 follows a development fee of two.9 % the yr earlier than that and 5.2 % the yr earlier than that. IIE estimates that about 15.5 % of bachelor’s college students, and 10.four % of all undergraduate college students (together with these incomes affiliate levels), now take part in a research overseas expertise throughout their diploma program.

“While it’s not a huge increase, I think any increase is very positive,” Bhandari mentioned. “It’s a slow but steady growth, and I think it’s really encouraging considering in the past year or so we’ve seen so many global concerns around security and health issues and political stability and concerns around destinations like France and Brazil and Turkey. And despite all that, we have seen not only a growth, but a slightly higher rate of growth.”

Notable modifications when it comes to pupil locations embody a 5.four % decline within the variety of American college students going to France, which is maybe attributable to the Nov. 15, 2015, terror badaults in Paris that killed 130 folks — and that would properly have dissuaded some college students from enrolling in applications in France the next spring or summer time. Though Turkey was by no means a prime vacation spot like France, the variety of American college students learning within the nation, which has skilled a collection of terror badaults since 2015 in addition to a failed coup try in July 2016, additionally dropped, by a dramatic 62.7 %.

The variety of college students going to Brazil, which was on the heart of the Zika epidemic that began in 2015, declined by 11.four %.

The variety of Americans learning in China additionally decreased by Eight.6 %, marking the fourth straight yr of decreases within the variety of American college students learning there. “What we’ve mostly heard from institutions is that it’s simply been a matter of refocusing their study abroad programs and looking at other countries,” Bhandari mentioned. “Where they’ve already focused on China for quite a few years, they’re now diversifying some of the other countries where they would like to send their students.”

On the plus aspect, the variety of college students going to Japan climbed by 18.1 %. And the variety of college students learning in Cuba jumped dramatically, growing by 58.6 %, from 2,384 college students in 2014-15 to three,782 college students in 2015-16. The U.S. beneath President Obama took numerous steps to ease guidelines for tutorial journey to Cuba and re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015. It appears questionable, nevertheless, whether or not the surge in U.S. college students going to Cuba shall be sustained. The Trump administration final week issued new, considerably tighter guidelines on journey to Cuba — although numerous types of academic journey proceed to be permitted — and the State Department in September warned Americans in opposition to journey to Cuba, citing “specific attacks” on diplomatic personnel there.

Top 20 Destinations for American Students Studying Abroad






















Country Total Number of Students, 2015-16 Percent Change From 2014-15
1. United Kingdom 39,146 +2.5%
2. Italy 34,898 +Three.Three%
Three. Spain 29,980 +5.Eight%
four. France 17,215 -5.four%
5. Germany 11,902 +Eight.1%
6. China 11,689 -Eight.6%
7. Ireland 11,Zero71 +Eight.2%
Eight. Australia 9,536 +Eight.2%
9. Costa Rica 9,234 -Zero.Eight%
10. Japan 7,146 +18.1%
11. South Africa 5,782 +10.2%
12. Mexico 5,179 +9.9%
13. Denmark four,632 +14.Eight%
14. Czech Republic four,610 +12.6%
15. India four,182 -5.Eight%
16. Argentina Three,847 +Three.7%
17. New Zealand Three,807 +14.5%
18. Cuba Three,782 +58.6%
19. Ecuador Three,751 +Zero.1%
20. South Korea Three,622 +2.9%

The prime 5 locations for American college students had been all in Western Europe: the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France and Germany. Somewhat greater than half of Americans learning overseas (54.four %) go to Europe. The subsequent hottest regional locations, in descending order, had been Latin America and the Caribbean (16.Three % of Americans learning overseas go there), Asia (11.1 %), Oceania (four.2 %), Sub-Saharan Africa (Three.9 %), the Middle East and North Africa (1.9 %), and elsewhere in North America (Zero.5 %). (“Open Doors” clbadifies Mexico as being a part of Latin America, not North America.) Another 7.6 % of scholars go to a number of locations.

Sixty-three % of scholars learning overseas in 2015-16 did so on short-term applications — summer time applications or these of eight weeks or fewer — a share that didn’t budge a lot from the earlier yr. White ladies are disproportionally represented amongst research overseas members, however participation has steadily grown extra various when it comes to college students’ race and ethnicity, a development that continued this yr. The proportion of girls to males barely budged from the yr earlier than: about two-thirds (66.5 %) of research overseas members in 2015-16 had been ladies and one-third (33.5 %) males.

Proportion of Study Abroad Students According to Race/Ethnicity








Race/Ethnicity 2005-6 2015-16
White 83% 71.6%
Hispanic or Latino(a) 5.four% 9.7%
Asian or Pacific Islander 6.Three% Eight.four%
Black or African-American Three.5% 5.9%
Multiracial 1.2% Three.9%
American Indian or Alaska Native Zero.6% Zero.5%

Students in science, expertise, engineering and arithmetic fields made up the most important share of scholars learning overseas — accounting for a few quarter (25.2 %) of the overall. Another 20.9 % of research overseas college students in 2015-16 studied enterprise, 17.1 % the social sciences, 7.four % overseas languages and worldwide research, and 6.9 % tremendous and utilized arts.

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