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International Student Enrollment Decrease Impacts US Economy

on February 1, 2018

Anytime an admission statistic drops, it warrants a closer look. The last year has seen a significant decrease in International Student Enrollment, and the cause has several obvious reasons, including more strained relationships between the U.S. and foreign countries, but it’s influenced by other factors, as well. This decrease in queries about U.S. admissions by foreign students, as well as decrease in enrollment, impacts the students at home, too.

 

In the 2016-2017 school year, more than 1 million international students added $39 billion dollars to the United States economy. In other words, that’s over 400,000 jobs — which breaks down to three U.S. jobs for every seven enrolled international students. It’s the small, primarily Midwestern, colleges that are experiencing the harshest blow to their budget books due to this decrease in international students. In the fall of 2017, the Institute of International Education reports that 45% of campuses have experienced an average of a 7% drop in international student enrollment. This isn’t “the norm” — it’s the first time this has happened in 12 years.

 

The economic factors can’t be ignored. A 14% decrease in students from Saudi Arabia can be traced back to cuts in government programs that funded students’ education in the U.S. That, in turn, was caused by falling oil prices. Brazilian students attending US institutions dropped by 32% when Brazil’s Ministry of Education announced the cancellation of a similar plan early in 2017.

 

There’s also the competition — other countries have stepped up their international student game by employing programs and international outreach to recruit top-notch students from other countries. Couple that with the fact that higher education, not just in the US, but across the globe, is making college less accessible, and there’s clearly a recipe brewing for reduced likelihood of students actually making their way to US soil thanks to depleted accessibility.

 

None of that stands to help US international students, but it alone hasn’t reduced the enrollment rates. Many institutions are battling against the “America First” rhetoric that’s become more common in the recent presidency, as well as the strict crackdown on visas. Admissions officers report increased and repeated questions from international students regarding even having the possibility of attending a US college or university, as well as concerns for their safety.

 

Total international students in the United States has reached one million recently, making that group an important factor in a college’s revenue model. A decline in this population is often creating a ripple effect within the institution, resulting in cutting programs or departments, laying off professors and stunting programs. Admissions professionals can ease this pain by focusing on quality over quantity, recruiting the right students more efficiently who are more likely to retain and graduate.

 

Cappex helps colleges grow and shape their enrollment numbers to recruit smarter with fewer resources. A recent analysis of over 190 Cappex clients revealed that Cappex inquiries were, on average, twice as likely to convert to a deposit than the sum of other sources. As Cappex students are typically in later stages of high school at critical college-decision moments, their hand raises are a strong indicator of real interest. Coupled with advanced targeting options, Cappex partners can engage with high-potential students on a trusted platform of their choice.

 

Studying abroad is often touted as an incomparable experience, one that every student should take advantage of. It offers an array of learning opportunities that simply can’t be mimicked any other way. While we want our US students to enjoy this unparalleled experience which benefits them as much as other countries, the reverse also holds true for here at home. International students add to the US economy and the impact of losing that income is slowly becoming more apparent. Only time will tell if it’s a fluke with the school year or whether it will be a trend in coming years.

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