Impact of U.S. Xenophobia on International Student Admissions

on April 28, 2017

The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) has conducted a survey of 294 college staff involved in international student admissions concerning international student applicants for fall 2017. The survey findings reflect concerns that the U.S. elections and subsequent developments can affect applications to U.S. colleges and universities by international students.


Key findings of the survey include:

  • More than a third of colleges reported a decline in international applications (38 percent) and about a third reported an increase (35 percent), with about a quarter reporting no change (27 percent). Larger colleges are reporting more declines than smaller colleges, suggesting that there will be an overall decline in the number of international student applications for admissions. This contrasts with the steady annual increase in the number of international students in the U.S. in previous years.
  • The most frequent student concerns include an increase in student visa denials, the perception of a less-welcoming environment for international students and travel restrictions (especially with regard to re-entry after travel and the possibility that the Trump administration’s travel ban might expand to include other countries).
  • Students from Africa (26 percent), Europe (18 percent) and Canada (6 percent) do not express the same level of concern as applicants from the Middle East (79 percent), India (46 percent), Asia excluding India and China (36 percent), Latin America (34 percent) and China (26 percent)., Although the number of applications from the Middle East demonstrate the greatest declines, applications from India and China have also been affected, with about a quarter of colleges reporting decreases in undergraduate applications from India (26 percent) and China (24 percent).
  • Colleges are responding to the increased concerns of international students through additional marketing and communication, more travel and increased acceptance rates. Many are emphasizing that international students remain welcome on their campuses. Larger colleges are more likely to modify their recruitment plans than smaller colleges.

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