The roster of new international students at colleges and universities fell more than 6 percent in the past school year, according to a report made public Tuesday, renewing questions about whether President Trump’s nationalist rhetoric and policies have undercut overseas demand for U.S. higher education.
That finding is double the previous rate of decline. What’s more, schools are reporting that the flow of international students is continuing to shrink this fall. Preliminary data from the nonprofit Institute of International Education show a 1.5 percent drop in new international students arriving on U.S. campuses in the current school year. That marks a third straight year of contraction on a key measure of academic exchange.
Many schools attributed the trend to problems with student visa delays and denials, according to the institute, as well as the U.S. social and political climate and student decisions to enroll outside the United States.
The new data elicited a worried response from the president of George Mason University in Northern Virginia and from other higher-education leaders in the Washington region and nationwide.
“While other countries work hard to attract international students, we are managing to send a message that talented foreigners are not welcome here, just when we most need them,” Ángel Cabrera, president of George Mason, said in a statement responding to the report.
Colleges rely on international students for the tuition they pay and the diverse perspectives they bring.
Many factors influence where foreign students go to school, including the cost of coming to the United States and the growing capacity of higher education systems abroad. But some education leaders say Trump’s advocacy of immigration restrictions, travel bans and a U.S.-Mexico border wall is not helping the nation compete for academic talent in the global market.
At George Mason, Virginia’s largest public university, 8.5 percent of roughly 37,700 students this fall are international. The total has grown steadily in recent years, and university officials want to ensure that it does not recede. Cabrera said foreign students bring hundreds of millions of dollars a year to Virginia’s economy and pay higher out-of-state tuition rates at public institutions, helping to subsidize the education of state residents.
Read more : Nick Anderson and Susan Svrluga : The Washington Post : 13 November 2018