The Covid-19 outbreak had a dramatic impact on the number of international students in the Classes of 2024 and 2025, with a surreal increase in deferring rates and an overall decrease in the number of international students.
According to Doug Christiansen, dean of undergraduate admissions and financial assistance, 10.4 percent of the 1,626 students in the Class of 2025 are foreign nationals, compared to 8.8 percent in the Class of 2024. This is a sudden decrease from a perpetual rate of 12.4 percent international students in the Class of 2018, according to Christiansen.
Christiansen reported that the impacts of the temporary suspension of visa services at specific US consulates across the world due to the Covid-19 outbreak are reflected in the foreign student data from the last two years. As to prevent the transmission of Covid-19, numerous presidential proclamations were issued during the period, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
These proclamations restricted or reprimanded the admission of noncitizens who were present (within 14 days before attempting entry to the US) in certain countries, including China, Iran, and the entire European Schengen Area (an area comprising 26 European countries). Similarly, numerous embassies throughout the world have also halted the application process for nonimmigrant visas, including the F-1 student visa.
“For roughly two to three percent of students who have opted not to come, Covid-19 has undoubtedly been a part of the debate,” Christiansen said. In order to join American institutions, international students must first complete an interview at a US embassy or consulate before entering the country. Christiansen has also highlighted in her study the impact of diminished US embassy engagement on overseas students in the Class of 2025.
“We just didn’t know when [the embassies] would get back open due to the variants,” Christiansen said. “We started tracking where all our students are coming from, to see whether all the embassies and consulates were open, what the wait times were; I would get a daily update on all of that.”
According to Christiansen, this ambiguity resulted in an increase in international student admissions in the Class of 2025, with an estimated increase of 24 students admitted than originally expected. The increase in acceptances was sparked by the university’s uncertainty about the number of international students who would be able to attend an American university due to international travel obstacles and constraints.
A first-year foreign student, Anseley Philippe, from Haiti said the immigration procedure was complicated during the pandemic, particularly scheduling a visa interview. “The (visa application) portal never let me in because all of the interview slots were taken down, due to the turmoil that was raging in the country,” Philippe said. “I had to log in throughout the day, looking for new slots that never got added,” Philippe added.
In the Class of 2024, 36 students, 11 of whom were international, took a gap year. Twenty-five students from the Class of 2025, five of whom were international, deferred to Fall 2022. Noncitizens made up 30.5 percent of students who were delayed from the Class of 2024, comparable to 20% in the Class of 2025.
In addition, the number of nations from which students applied in the last ten years ago has climbed from 50 to 135 in the 2021 application cycle. Furthermore, the Class of 2025 includes students from 74 different nations.