International student numbers drop at US colleges

The number of international students enrolling at American universities has declined for the first time in a decade, according to a report.

The Open Doors report, a yearly publication by the Institute of International Education, found that in the 2016-17 academic year, which began before the 2016 election, the number of international students decreased by about 10,000, or 3 percent, compared with the previous year.

The data, published on 13 November, show around one million international students are studying in the United States. Although the rate of increase in numbers has been slowing in the past few years, this is the first time the total number has dropped.

The organisation attributes the reduction to several causes, including expanding higher education systems at home and declining populations. But it says that uncertain political and economic situations in Saudi Arabia and Brazil—which account for a large chunk of America’s international student body—have also contributed to the decline.

“The scaling back of large Saudi and Brazil government scholarship programs was a significant factor, as the number of students from those two countries showed the biggest decreases, particularly in non-degree study,” said the report.

According to an article in The Boston Globe, educators expect president Trump’s targeted travel bans and anti-immigrant rhetoric to exacerbate the trend. This could mean next year’s data show an even larger plunge in international student numbers.

Meanwhile, the newpaper said international students were choosing to study in English-speaking countries outside the United States, with record numbers in Canada, for example. The University of Toronto saw a 21 percent increase in the last academic year, accepting students from the US, India, the Middle East, and Turkey.

This story originally appeared on Research Europe on 30/11/17

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