Visa Crunch

Reason Behind Year-On-Year Decline In The Number Of International Students In The US

International students studying at American universities have been at the leading edge of innovation and progress for years Immigrants who came to the United States as international students and then went on to found or work for companies such as Google, Tesla, AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, and Texas Instruments have made numerous technological and societal advancements.

During recent years, universities and educational institutions across the United States have seen a drop in international student enrolment, which a recent analysis shows could have far-reaching consequences for Texas and the country. The number of international students in the United States fell by 1.8 per cent, to just under 1.1 million, compared to the previous school year during the academic year 2019-20.

According to Open Doors, which oversees international enrollment in the United States, international student enrollment in Texas fell by 5.9 per cent between the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years. The drop in international students can be attributed to factors such as a highly polarized immigration debate, increased competition from countries such as Canada and Australia, increased visa restrictions for dependents, and an ambiguous path to obtain a work visa in the United States post-graduation. Students from India, China, Mexico, Vietnam, and South Korea constitute the majority in Texas.

Universities in the United States, both public and private, continue to accept more international students than any other country, however, the number has been steadily declining. Enrollment fell by 11% in five years, from 3,00,743 in 2016 to 2,67,712 in 2020 as far as new international student admissions are concerned.

“Higher education institutions in the United States are having a harder time competing in the global marketplace because other countries are doing more (offering easier paths for work opportunities after graduation.) We still have the best higher education system in the world,” said Lisa Montoya, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

According to an analysis from the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers (NAFSA), a globally recognized non-profit association devoted solely to international education, the trend, which has accelerated in the last five years, could cost Texas up to $2 billion per year. Texas benefits greatly from the influx of foreign talent thanks to its UT, Texas A&M, and Texas State higher education systems, as well as dozens of private research institutions. It ranks third in terms of international student enrollment, trailing only New York and California.

As a result of the virus outbreak restrictions, universities are concerned about what the declining trend in foreign student enrollment means not only for the economic growth of these institutions but also for the makeup of their student body, which resembles a competitive and globalized landscape.

According to Julia Gelatt, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, the Trump administration’s restrictive immigration policies resulted in a decrease in the number of admissions of international students.

The H1-B visas were restricted by the Trump administration and workers with advanced degrees, claiming that this would prevent American workers from being “replaced” by foreign workers. the American economy is mostly driven by Immigrant entrepreneurs, professors, scientists, and other professionals who come to the United States as college students. It is an economic and cultural challenge for Texas colleges when it comes to the loss of international students. This had an impact on major tech firms that rely on foreign workers, many of whom graduated from the US education pipeline.

This fall semester, the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) enrolled 4,582 international students, accounting for 11% of total enrollment. International students pay full tuition, which is approximately three times the cost of in-state tuition. These students also spend money and pay local taxes whenever they buy food, gas, pay living expenses, shop, or travel.

According to the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers, international students support 22,157 jobs in Texas during the 2019-2020 school year.

Last year, the United Kingdom introduced a global talent visa, which expedites legal status for people working in fields where qualified workers are in short supply and because countries such as Australia and Canada make it simple for international graduates to continue working and while giving priority to other applicants for permanent residency, students have been going to these countries more.

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