American colleges have seen a drop in international student enrollments and they are blaming President Trump for it. Colleges in other countries are taking advantage of the situation. They are now enrolling more international students who would typically enroll in a U.S. college. Trump’s radical immigration rhetoric has been blamed for scaring potential international students away. The number of new foreign students in the US dropped by 3% in 2017 with the decline expected to double in 2018. Data also shows that the US has granted fewer visitor visas during the Trump administration.
An amicus brief written by dozens of higher education groups says that Trump’s travel ban and overall immigration rhetoric have been a “clarion call of exclusion to millions.” The groups say that this harms the universities’ ability to attract and enroll foreign students. Trump has also been accused of damaging the “American brand” that was in the past very attractive for international students. According to experts in international education, there’s no doubt that the much-publicized antagonism expressed by the US President towards Muslims and other immigrants has undermined the US as a leading education destination.
At the same time, overseas universities are seeing an increase in the number of international student enrollments. Australia, a country that has been US’s biggest competitor in this area, is taking advantage. Enrollments for international students have not just increased but there has been a significant increase in the number of students from Muslim majority countries too. Australia reported a 12% increase in international student enrollment. Other countries too are seeing significant growth. Universities in Canada, China, Japan, Spain, and New Zealand are all posting double-digit growth in enrollments.
This is the first time that the US has reported a decline in international student enrollment over the last 12 years. Universities think that in order for the US to maintain its edge as a scientific powerhouse, it must do whatever it can to attract the best talent in the world. Foreign students who come to the country have often proved to be key economic drivers. Foreign-born entrepreneurs like Elon Musk who was educated at the University of Pennsylvania but grew up in South Africa are a classic case of how such international programs can benefit the US.
However, Trump’s travel ban has landed in legal hurdles. A case in front of the Supreme Court is set to determine whether the President overstepped his authority in issuing the ban. The ban affects eight countries in total, six of which are Muslim majority nations. The White House claims that the ban is a necessary national security requirement.
But it’s not just the travel ban that appears to be keeping people off the US. The Trump administration is also considering constricting visas for Chinese citizens as part of trade tariffs on China. This could hurt thousands of Chinese students studying in America. American colleges have been at the forefront pushing for a legal solution on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program which protects child immigrants. However, the political climate in Washington and in the US in general doesn’t look promising.