Visa Crunch

The US states which are most vulnerable to overseas student decline

Public schools in California, Florida and Maryland are the most vulnerable financially to a drop in international student recruitment, according to an analysis.

The research conducted used figures on international students, and found out of additional revenue that international students bring to the campus in comparison to local students by calculating the percentage difference in the figures between out-of-state and in-state fees of public universities. 

Individual US states were given a score of one to five for different metrics, according to their average value, followed by an overall vulnerability score out of 10, where 10 indicates the highest level of vulnerability. Although no state received the maximum score of 10, three states scored nine which were California, Florida and Maryland. Out-of-state fees in Florida average $16,000, more than three times the price of in-state fees ($5,000), making the region with the most significant percentage difference between the two fee levels.

Maryland and California also have a comparatively big average difference between in-state and out-of-state fees. Still, their big vulnerability score was higher due to their significant percentage of international students, 6.5 per cent and 9.5 per cent. According to the analysis in both cases, share increased by more than two per cent scores in the five years to 2018, higher than any other state.

On the other hand, public universities in South Carolina, Louisiana and Alabama show the least sign of vulnerability to a possible drop in international students as each of them scored three overall. Louisiana and South Carolina are some states to have suffered a small decline in international students between 2014 and 2018.

According to the analysis, the median vulnerability score across the dataset was six. The higher education sector in the US is increasingly concerned about a dip in admissions of foreign students directed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the nation’s increasingly restrictive immigration policies.

Global engagement vice-president at the American Council on Education, Brad Farnsworth, predicted that in August at least a 30 per cent decline in new international student registration this year, added that the recruitment figures might be even worse next year. As many international students who had applied to start in fall 2020 “were already locked in when COVID hit”.

Mr Brad Farnsworth said a lot of government universities in Florida and California have been attractive to international students partly because these states have “for the international community a separate identity” to the US as a whole.  In contrast, New York state, which receives a vulnerability score of seven due to a high share of international students but a small variation in fee costs, is handling the pandemic much better, he added.

Mr Farnsworth said that public schools might be able to recruit more resident out-of-state students to make up the dip of international student revenue. Still, even domestic students had a desire to be less mobile due to the pandemic.

Leonardo Villalón who is the dean of the International Center at the University of Florida, said he was “extremely concerned” about the slump in the number of international students going to the US and his institution.

He said that previous year the University of Florida had 1,700 international students that had accepted an admission offer along with their documents to get a visa and the student turn-up rate was close to 91%. This year, in contrast, only 23 per cent of students enrolled out of the issued  1,000 over-seas students with the paperwork by them. 

Mr Villalón said that for this year the COVID-19 pandemic was a complicating factor, but the political climate as well civil unrest were also a part of significant decline. He remarked that certain courses and speciality areas would have a substantial financial impact from the dropping number of international students, especially in professional postgraduate programmes. 

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