By Hallie Detrick
November 13, 2017

Nearly half of American universities have seen a decline in foreign-student enrollment this year.

According to a new survey of more than 500 American colleges and universities conducted by the Institute for International Education and its partners, the average decline in new international student enrollment in the fall of 2017 was 7%. This downward trend began with a flattening in enrollment in the fall of 2016 after 10 consecutive years of growth.

While no one factor is wholly responsible for the decline, some school officials have wondered whether President Trump’s tough immigration stance has led to the reversal in this trend; 68% of institutions surveyed attributed the decline at least in part to the visa process and 57% cited the political environment, both up from last year. But similar proportions of the institutions cited the cost of American colleges and competition with institutions in other countries.

There are strong reasons to welcome and support international students. Another study out today from NAFSA: Association of International Educators found that they contributed $36.9 billion and supported more than 450,000 jobs in the U.S. economy during the 2016-2017 academic year.

Looking ahead, many universities are looking for new ways to market themselves to international students in order to keep their diversity statistics—and their coffers—robust.

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