Decrease in international college students: Costly on the home front?

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College students might see an increase in their tuition in light of data that were collected in March 2017 by Inside Higher Ed that indicate that nearly 40 percent of U.S. colleges are experiencing a decline in applications that they receive from international students. Revenue from international students helps to fund educational costs for all students.

According to data from five higher-education organizations, 39 percent of universities reported decreases in the number of undergraduate applications from students from the Middle East. Schools also reported drops in student applications from China and India, which are the top two sources of international students who come to the United States.

Public institutions typically operate in a way that makes college more affordable for in-state residents compared with those who are from out of state. International students who pay the nonresident-tuition rate are an important part of schools’ financial capability, says Nicole Tami, who is the executive director of global-education initiatives at University of New Mexico. Tami says the current U.S. political climate affects how international students perceive the United States as an education destination.

Melanie Gottlieb, who is the deputy director of American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, says the decline in international-student enrollment isn’t just a financial issue. Having fewer international students on a campus reduces the ability of its U.S. students to have intercultural experiences, and Gottlieb believes that this results in graduates being less well-rounded. She says it will be interesting to see whether and when the number of international students who actually attend will decrease. Gottlieb says she expects that the decline in international-student enrollment will be temporary, because colleges and universities are committed to having international students on their campuses.