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Study: Fewer International Students Applying for US Universities

FILE - Students control a "Robocop" during a demonstration at Florida International University in Miami.
FILE - Students control a "Robocop" during a demonstration at Florida International University in Miami.

Nearly four in 10 U.S. colleges and universities have reported a decline in international student applications, according to a recent survey by six higher education groups.

The study, of 250 American colleges and universities, found the highest number of declines were from applicants from the Middle East. Universities report declines of 39 percent in undergraduate applications from the Middle East, while applications from graduate students from the region have decreased by 31 percent.

According to the Institute of Higher Education, the majority of Middle East students are from Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait.

The report mentions that according to institution-based professionals perceptions the United States is now less welcoming to individuals from other countries is one of the “most frequently noted concerns of international students and their families.”

More than one million international students come to the United States to attend colleges and universities, adding some $32.8 billion to the U.S. economy. The majority are from China, with more than 300,000 nationals studying, followed by India with 160,000 students.

Iran, which accounted for more than 12,000 international students for the 2015/2016 academic year, is one of six countries for which U.S. President Donald Trump’s has instituted a temporary ban on travelers.

India and China, which make up 47 percent of international student enrollment, have also been impacted. Twenty-six percent of colleges have reported declining undergraduate applications from India, while 25 percent say they have seen a decline in those from China.

Although one of the top destinations for international students, U.S. universities and colleges face stiff competition from schools in Britain, Canada, France and Australia which each attracting a significant number of applicants.

The international student survey was conducted in February by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, the Institute of International Education, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and the International Association for College Admission Counseling.

Full results from the study will be released later this month.

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