Have American politics altered access to international students?

The political climate in the United States has changed in 2017, and schools relying on international enrollees have been wondering if the appeal of the US as a destination for higher education has declined.

We hear colleges asking: Are non-citizens more hesitant to apply? Is melt going to be up for this population? Should we anticipate stronger reactions from certain regions? Will our retention be affected? The answers to these questions will likely affect diversity and enrollment in key programs. They also may influence the bottom line for institutions who are depending on full-pay or lower discount international students to augment net revenue.

Maguire Associates is taking your concerns seriously, discussing them with experts internally, as well as with current clients' admissions teams. Jim Panos, an advisor for Maguire Associates and Senior VP at EduCo International Group has examined these questions during his recent trip across Asia. Through his work at EduCo, he taps into student application and enrollment patterns from five continents. Today, we are reporting on Asia and will follow up with feedback from his network in other parts of the world, as well as data from an international study that we are conducting on behalf of The Chronicle of Higher Education.


Our internal assessment of client experiences and Jim's observations offer the following:

  • We have not seen a trending decline in applications, but the risk to international student enrollment also includes conversion of students admitted. The greatest unknown is what the student visa conversion will look like, and over the last 5 years, the India student visa conversion has declined.
  • Nationally ranked universities, in general, have not experienced a drop in applications from Asian markets. There still is growing demand for top ranked universities in international markets. The more mature the market (i.e. India, China), the greater the demand there is. Meanwhile, unranked schools will continue to face a greater challenge in attracting and converting international students, since national ranking is a priority for this population.
  • Emerging markets, like Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia), have historically sent students to Australia and the UK, and over the last 5 to 6 years have started to send more students to the US. This market is still maturing and American universities will need to be more aggressive in developing a stronger brand in these countries.
  • Overall, the United States is still a top destination market for international students, but the most important message universities like yours can deliver to international students is why international students are valued at your institution and how your campus integrates international students both academically and socially.

We ask you, is this what your institution is seeing? Share your thoughts in our 4-question survey and we will update you.

Additionally, we want to provide expert information on more topics of interest to you. At the end of the form you'll have an opportunity to provide us with your ideas.


For content like this, sent straight to your inbox, subscribe below.

The Results

Be sure to view the results of this survey.