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President Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban has ‘chilling’ effect on current and prospective international students

Wasim Ahmad | Staff Photographer

The most frequently noted concerns of international students and their families were listed in a summary of the findings. One such concern is that “the climate in the U.S. is now less welcoming to individuals from other countries.”

International students make up 5 percent of the total enrollment in United States universities, according to the Institute of International Education, which roughly equals 975,000 students.

But that margin may not last going forward.

A recent survey by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers found that 40 percent of the over 250 schools surveyed reported a decrease in the number of international student applications they received.

The most frequently noted concerns of international students and their families were listed in a summary of the findings. One such concern is that “the climate in the U.S. is now less welcoming to individuals from other countries.” The national trend had been an increase in international student applications over the past decade up until this point, per The New York Times, leading some to wonder whether President Trump’s policy promises and rhetoric have affected international interest in studying in the U.S.

Other concerns outlined in the summary include the potential for an expansion of what countries would be affected by an executive order travel ban, the potential for a rise in student visa denials from certain countries, and the potential for restrictions around visas to change, especially around the ability to travel, re-enter the U.S. after traveling, and opportunities regarding employment.

The survey also found that the region most concerned about studying in the U.S. is the Middle East, a predominately Muslim region. President Trump has been associated with islamophobic rhetoric in the past and his executive orders banning travel from the Middle East affected Muslim majority countries.

One of the reasons that international students may be looking to attend school elsewhere, said Mehrzad Boroujerdi, provost faculty fellow for internationalization at Syracuse University, is the fact that other countries do not have the political climate that the U.S. has.

“I think overall it’s fair to say that a lot of international students, particularly from the affected countries, might have second thoughts about coming to the U.S. while they can, let’s say, go to places like Canada or Germany and get as good of an education without all these problems attached to it,” Boroujerdi said.

International students currently studying at institutions across the country are experiencing the “chilling” effects of President Trump’s proposed travel ban even though it is not currently in effect, Boroujerdi said.

He explained that many get visas that only allow one entry into the U.S., so if they travel or do research abroad, they must reapply and go through a security background check to re-enter. By the time they do so they may have missed the date by which they are supposed to return by.

Per Inside Higher Ed, many of the U.S.’s international students are from China and India, neither of which is affected by the travel ban. Still, the survey found that enrollment from these countries is dropping, too. Twenty-five percent of universities reported declines in Chinese undergraduate applications and 26 percent reported those declines for Indian students.

Because international students are “a very important ‘brain pool’ that we draw upon,” the effects of a decrease in international students at colleges across the nation could be devastating, Boroujerdi said.

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