Visa Crunch

Pandemic affects the enrollment of Indian students to US universities

Even though the first priority of Indians remains to be the US, there is a decline of four percent of Indian students applying to the US institutions according to the US State Department and International Institute of Education’s Open Doors 2020. Among several reasons like visa and competition from other nationalities contributing to the dip, the Covid-19 pandemic appears to be the biggest.

As per the data from the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) report based on a survey of 700 US institutions, the total number of foreign students dropped by sixteen percent in the fall of 2020 with forty-three percent steep decline in new enrollments and since 1954, it is the largest recorded drop by the Institute of International Education’s published data on international enrollment. Though only six percent of international students decided against studying overseas, fifty-five percent is of the opinion that postponing the study to the next semester would only be necessary and that was about 40,000 of their students according to the institutions.

The online systems adopted by most of the universities are not doing much good to the situation, mainly due to the time zone difference between the US and India. Students had to attend classes and exams at midnight which would greatly affect not just the academic performance and attention, but also their schedule, overall health and wellbeing.

With embassies and consulates not functioning properly in several countries along with flight cancellations, travel restrictions and increased job losses, the pandemic has created a huge impact on the international education sector. Out of the one million foreign students in the US, only eighteen percent are from India, whereas China has the largest share of thirty-five percent. The international students at the largest US universities also faced huge loss with the University of Texas by seventeen percent, Michigan State University by twenty percent and the University of Minnesota, Ohio State University and Arizona State University by fifteen percent.

The decline can have several other influences financially as the tuition fees paid by foreign students is many of the institutes’ major income and the companies that usually focus on foreign students for hiring could also be negatively affected. Aside from the pandemic, the US universities are also facing competition from other countries like China, Canada and Australia in alluring international students to their campuses with the US government tightening its immigration rules.

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