- The business and engineering colleges at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have obtained a $60 million insurance policy protecting them from a one-year, 20% or greater decrease in revenue from Chinese students, according to the Times Higher Education.
- The policy, which was put in place last year but disclosed just this month, cost the institution $424,000. About 20% of the business college's revenue comes from Chinese students. Gies College of Business Dean Jeff Brown said exposure for the two colleges would be about $60 million for one year if demand from Chinese students "completely disappeared."
- Brown said issues such as visa restrictions, a pandemic, a trade war or other events out of the institution's control could allow the university to make the claim.
Chinese nationals account for the largest share of international students in the U.S. at about one-third, according to Institute of International Education data.
Yet the number of international students at U.S. colleges is declining across the board, with undergraduate enrollment decreasing by around 2% from the fall of 2016 to the fall of 2017 and the number of graduate students declining by about 5%, in both cases after increasing the four academic years prior, according to a report from the National Science Foundation.
The number of undergraduates from China fell 3% during the period, according to the NSF. And although other reports show positive trends in graduate student enrollment in the U.S. among Chinese nationals, new and expected visa policies threaten to make it harder for them to study in the U.S.
International college students contributed $39 billion to the U.S. economy during the 2017-18 academic year and supported 455,622 jobs, according to research by NAFSA. That's up from about $37 billion during the 2016-17 academic year.
UIUC's move is one approach to combating the loss of international students, which has been attributed to competition from universities in other countries and stricter immigration policies. Yet U.S. colleges often rely on international students to pay sticker price for tuition to offset grants for other students, which is especially critical for public universities as government funding to higher education declines in most states. UIUC earlier this year said it would give free tuition to eligible in-state students whose family income is at or below the state median.
Colleges are also lowering tuition for international students in order to draw them to campus. Eastern Michigan University, for example, is charging international students the same tuition rate as in-state students after its international student enrollment dropped from 872 to 800 students last year. It hopes to double that count by 2022.