Trump’s Policies Affect International Student Enrollment

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Since President Trump has been in office, he has made many changes to immigration laws and policies. He has issued travel bans on several Muslim countries, made changes to the temporary protected status (TPS), and ended the DACA program.

Now, with his many reforms, not only are many immigrants affected, but also American universities are facing the problem of losing money as international students are seeking other countries for their education.

International students typically pay more in tuition than American citizens. However, between the travel ban, visa restrictions, and even Trump’s comments about immigrants, the enrollment of international students in American universities has declined. calculates that, on average, tuition, room, and board fees for out-of-state students is $36,420 at four-year public universities. Gary Bergman, the founder and president of College Study US says, “if you lose 10 students, that’s a third of a million dollars per year in university revenue you’re not getting.” This is not even taking into consideration the money foreign students spend on housing, clothes, cars, etc.

According to the Institute of International Education, international students contribute $36.9 billion to the U.S. economy each year just in living expenses alone. And, according to the Association of International Educators, they reported that in 2016 foreign students were responsible for and supported over 450,000 jobs in higher education, accommodations, retail, transportation, telecommunications, and health industries.

Some schools in the Midwest, including a few in Missouri and Kansas, reported immense suffering due to the decline in admission rates. states that the University of Central Missouri at Warrensburg saw a noticeable decrease in enrollment, calculating the international enrollment falling from 2,638 in the fall of 2016 to 944 last autumn.

Avila University also saw an 11 percent decline in international students in 2017 compared to 2016; the University of Missouri Columbia campus saw a 12 percent drop, as well.

Despite other universities expressing a decline in admission rates, “Saint Leo has maintained the same number of international students from fall 2016 to fall 2017 with a total of 446 foreign students,” expressed Paige Ramsey Hamacher, the executive director of Student Success on the university campus.

Ever since 2008, there has been a drop in the number of US-born students in STEM graduate programs, and international students keep program numbers up. Supplied tech workers also fill the increasing gap left by the declining number of American citizens studying science and technology at the graduate level. However, since then, US Graduate programs have seen a decline in international student admissions, as well.

Within the science and engineering fields, international graduate enrollment dropped six percent from the fall of 2016 to the fall of 2017, and half of that decrease was students interested in the computer science and engineering field, according to, an online publication.

Indian students were reported to have the biggest drop in enrollment, as their numbers fell by 19 percent in 2017. Other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and South Korea also sent fewer students in 2017.

Although Trump’s change in immigration policies showed some responsibility for the decline in international admission, his ignorant and discriminatory remarks also played a role.

Trump reportedly, again, insulted immigrants by saying those who came to the U.S. through the diversity visa lottery system are picked “from a bin” and are “the worst of the worst” reported from

“They have a lottery—you pick people. You think the country is giving us their best people? No. What kind of a system is that? They come in by a lottery. They give us their worst people; they put ’em in a bin. But in his hand, when he’s picking ’em, is really the worst of the worst. Congratulations, you’re going to the United States,” Trump said, speaking to a graduating class of the FBI’s National Academy, vowing to tighten restrictions on the lottery and chain migration, according to

Trump has also made the argument, questioning why international students choose to study in the U.S. when they have alternative options for their education in countries like Canada.

With Trump’s blunt and harsh comments on immigrants, his words struck fear in some of the international students on US campuses who fear for their life during and after college.

The Institute of International Education reports that a 56.8 percent of students in institutions reported feeling unwelcome in the United States.

Susan Popko, the associate provost of the international program at Santa Clara University in California said, according to, “a student comes into the office highly emotional and full anxiety asking to speak with an adviser urgently…” professing concerns about future possibilities for working in the U.S.

Popko says her students express concerns about the future of the H-1B visa program, as the government recently made it harder for H-1B visa holders to renew their permits.

Many Saint Leo international students have also expressed their concern for what will come next after graduation.

“There has been a growing concern about travel and F1 visa applications more so than before,” said Hamacher.

Nevertheless, of the growing concern, there is an effort to stay informed about the policies.

“The Multicultural and International Service Office here on campus works to stay informed on immigration policies so that staffers can inform students who may be affected,” Hamacher expresses.  “We are available for questions or concerns to our students.”

On another note, many universities have publicly voiced their support for their international students. And campuses, such as the University of Missouri, have gone above and beyond to invite students, faculty, and administrators across campus to host international students over the winter holidays.

The university has also launched an online international student ambassador program, where prospective students and their families can engage in live online chats with University of Missouri students from the student’s home country.

Also, Saint Leo still strives to recruit international students, and find ways to attract more international students.

“Saint Leo University continues to recruit some of the best and brightest international students from around the world. We continue to diversify our university campus by traveling to new regions and further developing our connections with international high schools and counselors,” said Maribeth Stevens, Associate Director of International Admissions.” Our international alumni and current international students are some of our best resources when recruiting new students, and we are looking into additional ways to include them in the recruitment process.”

Although international students provide diversity, increase the talent pool, and introduce different perspectives not only to US university campuses but also to the country itself, with Trump continuing to push for immigration change, there might be a continued decrease in international students wanting to study in the US.

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