U.S. Colleges are Losing International Students: Why It's Happening and Why It's a Problem

Report Author: 
Jake Varn
Original Date of Publication: 
October, 2017

The United States has long drawn students from all over the world to attend its world-class colleges and universities. However, in 2016, international enrollment dropped for the first time since 2005. In this report, policy analyst Jake Varn argues that this decline should be cause for alarm. He points out that international students are vital to the higher education ecosystem and the larger economy: they create a diverse student body and are a significant source of revenue for universities as they pay full tuition and often do not receive financial aid. If enrollment continues to drop, institutional budgets will suffer, and the U.S. will lose the $37 billion that international students pump into the U.S. economy every year. Based on research from the National Science Foundation and Institute of International Education, Varn identifies some likely causes for the decline both on a national and global level. In the U.S., changes in immigration policy, like requiring international students to reapply for visas every year and the increasingly hostile rhetoric surrounding immigration, are some possible contributing factors. Restrictions and cancellations of scholarship programs and the rise of international competition in higher education may also contribute to lower international student enrollment in the U.S. Varn believes that universities and the federal government should develop policies to reverse these ominous trends. (Sakura Tomizawa for The Immigrant Learning Center's Public Education Institute)

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Varn, J. (2018, March 1). U.S. Colleges are Losing International Students: Why It’s Happening and Why It’s a Problem [Blog Post]. Retrieved April 27, 2018, from https://bipartisanpolicy.org/blog/u-s-colleges-are-losing-international-students/#

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