Universities scramble as political climate threatens international enrollment
- Approximately 40% of domestic colleges and universities participating in a recent higher education survey are reporting a decrease in applications from international students, a trend that some observers attribute to the changing political climate in the United States, travel restrictions, and growing perceived animus against international student presence on some campuses, Inside Higher Ed reports.
- 35% of the 250 participating schools reported increases in applications from foreign countries, while 26% reported no change.
- Applications from Middle Eastern nations were the most reduced according to a recent study of international students by Royall & Company, but interest from students in Canada, Asia and Europe is also declining. Respondents indicated the federal travel ban against several nations in the region, the attitudes from the White House about foreign students, and a perception of unwelcoming campus climates as the top reasons for their decreased interest.
Institutions may have to consider more aggressive recruitment tactics or establishing online learning operations in countries which have less strained relationships with the United States, in order to overcome new patterns of application and enrollment from other countries. More importantly, research institutions may want to consider new options in tech-based collaboration and information-sharing to continue to meet contractual obligations with the federal government and private funding organizations.
However, the issue of perceived hostility on campus is one leaders can — and must — address directly. As institution chiefs continue to work to navigate the lines between promoting free speech and academic freedom and ensuring a safe and inclusive space for all students, administrators will need to make it clear that diversity is highly valued on campus, and disrespectful or offensive communication directed at any student or faculty member will not be permitted.
- Inside Higher Ed Will international students stay away?