International students contribute more than $30 billion to the U.S. economy.
International students and professors at U.S. universities were among those caught in the wake of President Trump’s immigration ban enacted last week: Many became stranded while traveling abroad, while others were warned not to leave the country at this time.
And while long-term immigration restrictions would have a lasting impact on university campuses, experts say they could also damage the nation’s economy as a whole.
U.S. colleges could lose up to $700 million in revenue per year if Trump’s immigration ban on seven Muslim-majority countries becomes permanent, according to a report released Tuesday by College Factual, a higher education research firm. The figure comes from student visa data and depends on whether international students pay the full price of tuition and fees, and whether all students who are granted a visa actually enroll at a U.S. school, Bloomberg reported.
Trump’s executive order on Friday suspended the U.S. refugee program and temporarily banned immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. But according to College Factual CEO Bill Phelan, even a temporary ban could have negative economic repercussions.
“It can have very much a permanent impact because the colleges are certainly highly reliant on the international student population on U.S. campuses, and this is certainly not a way to build confidence in parents of foreign students that are trying to effectively make a four-year decision,” he said. “I think it really causes quite a bit of concern across the board.”
Almost 16,000 students who attend U.S. colleges and universities come from countries affected by the immigration ban, according to College Factual, which cited 2015 data from the Department of Homeland Security.
During the 2014-2015 school year, international students contributed more than $30.5 billion to the U.S. economy, based on Department of Commerce data cited by the Institute of International Education, an independent nonprofit that advocates for international education.
Leaders of several U.S. universities have spoken out to oppose the ban, and students across the country have joined campus protests that mirrored those at airports during the weekend.
“Amid this widespread doubt and unease, we will continue to insist that policymakers take full account of how fundamentally our universities depend on the ability of people to travel across borders without undue constraint,” Harvard President Drew Faust said Sunday in a statement to students.