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November 22, 2019

Decline in foreign students’ number attending US education institutes

Top Story

November 22, 2019

WASHINGTON: More international students come to the US from around the world for higher education than any other country, but those metrics show stagnation -- and steep declines from some countries -- for the second year after decades of growth.

The annual Open Doors report, compiled by the Institute for International Education with the US State Department, for the 2018-2019 school year showed enrolment of 1,095,299 international students among 19,828,000 total students in institutions of higher education in the US. That makes international students 5.5 percent of all college and university students in the U.S.

The numbers showed a slight increase in total international enrolment, 0.05 percent from the previous year, but a decrease in new international student enrolment, -0.9 percent. Decreases were seen in undergraduate (-2.4 percent), graduate (-1.3 percent) and non-degree (-5.0 percent) trends, as well, international media reported.

China sent the most students -- 369,548 -- comprising 33.7 percent of all foreign students, a 1.7 percent increase from the previous year. India sent the second-largest number -- 202,014 -- or 18.4 percent of all college and university students, a 2.9 percent increase from the previous year.

But several other countries, in descending order of number of students sent to the US, showed declines: South Korea (-4.2 percent), Saudi Arabia (-16.5 percent), Canada (0.8 percent), Vietnam (0.3 percent), Taiwan (4.1 percent), Japan (-3.5 percent), Brazil (9.8 percent), Mexico (-1.5 percent), Nigeria (5.8 percent), Nepal (-0.3percent), Iran (-5.0 percent), the United Kingdom (-2.7 percent), Turkey (-3.4 percent), Kuwait (-9.8 percent), Germany (-8.5 percent), France (-1.0 percent), Indonesia (-3.4 percent), Bangladesh (10 percent), Colombia (1.1 percent), Pakistan (5.6 percent), Venezuela (-7.3 percent), Malaysia (-6.8 percent) and Spain (-3.0 percent).

What is turning off international students from coming to study in the U.S.? Institutions polled indicated the slowdown includes the high cost of tuition at US colleges and universities, difficulty in getting visas or the insecurity of maintaining a student visa throughout a student's education, students feeling a lack of welcome in the US, negative political rhetoric and news of crime in the US.

“We are happy to see the continued growth in the number of international students in the United States and US students studying abroad,” Marie Royce, assistant secretary of state for Educational and Cultural Affairs, was quoted as saying.

“Promoting international student mobility remains a top priority for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and we want even more students in the future to see the United States as the best destination to earn their degrees," Royce said.

"International exchange makes our colleges and universities more dynamic for all students, and an education at a US institution can have a transformative effect for international students, just like study abroad experiences can for US students.”

In 2017, the US Department of Commerce said international students contributed $42 billion to the US economy.

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