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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

Foreign Student Enrollment at U.S. Universities Continues to Dip

November 17, 2004

The number of foreign students enrolling at higher education institutions in the United States has declined over the past two academic years, according to three new surveys. One of the surveys indicates that foreign student enrollments are declining even though visa difficulties have decreased in the past year.

The first study indicates a 2.4 percent decrease in the number of foreign students enrolled at American colleges and universities during the 2003–04 academic year. Open Doors 2004, by the Institute of International Education, also states that the drop was the first since the 1971–72 academic year.

A second survey indicated a 6 percent drop in new foreign students enrolled at graduate schools this fall. The survey by the Council of Graduate Schools examines enrollments of post-baccalaureate students in the United States during the fall of 2004. This is the third year in a row the GCS survey has noted a decrease in enrollment among foreign students.

The final and most comprehensive survey, released by five higher education associations, confirmed that more of the 480 responding institutions saw decreases in foreign student enrollment than those that saw increases. The decreases were more apparent for masters and doctoral degree-seeking students.