For the first time in a decade, international enrollment at American colleges and universities has decreased, indicating a correlation between the Trump administration's immigration rhetoric and the number of students desiring to attend school in the U.S.
The findings are from the Institute of International Education's annual Open Doors report and its smaller joint "snapshot" report on international enrollment. It found that new international student enrollment dropped by 3.3% for the 2016-2017 academic year, and by a far higher 6.9% in the Fall 2017 semester. Peggy Blumenthal, IIE's Senior Counselor to the President, told Axios that it was the first time the organization had seen a drop in the 12 years it had been collecting this data.
Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, told told Axios this is likely to harm future U.S. innovation, saying,
"We don't grow talent in America. We go out and harvest talent from the rest of the world. We're basically taking ourselves out of the game." He said that global politics are accentuating the trend. "Opportunity for talented STEM workers is increasing in the rest of the world — the two together: the rise of the authoritarian personality here and the increasing prospects for people in their own countries as the whole world turns to capitalism."
The decline is not affecting only the notable universities but lesser-known schools as well:
Blumenthal said the trend is affecting big-name schools much less than the average, especially on the coasts. The effect was much more pronounced in the Midwest and Texas, she said, especially at schools without Ph.D. programs, and at community colleges. She said, "It's happening state-by-state and institution-by-institution."