With the ongoing US Elections 2020, many stakeholders of the international education sector have started to request for a clearer message that provides a warmer welcome to students from different countries. An education consultant in Gurugram stated that the US administration must provide a clearer message regarding welcoming international students to its soil.
With the different restrictions and negative sentiments regarding immigration, Indians who previously wished to pursue higher education in the US were confused, she stated. After setting up the new government, the federal government in the US must provide a better stance at welcoming international students and professionals.
The consultant also stated that some of the aspirants had decided that they will confirm their US study abroad plans once the Presidential Elections conclude. She added that the UK or Canada become a more viable option due to the absence of “a welcoming political environment”. Further, even though the H-1B visa restrictions are not related to University Education, there has been a reduced demand for US Universities among the international students over the years, due to increased negativity around the issue.
Trends and statistics, as per sources, show that the flow of international student to into the US, have reduced. Over the years, the aggregate number of foreign students, apart from Other Practical Training (OPT) Students, was at its lowest in 2018-19. Data shows that in 2018-19, a total of 872,214 students had enrolled, meanwhile, 891,330 students enrolled in the previous year, i.e. 2017-18. This number was, yet again, lower when compared to the 2016-17 enrolment numbers, which had been recorded at 903,127, as per an official data of the US.
Although, adding OPT students to the overall numbers sees an insignificant rise of 0.05% over the 2017-18 numbers, which is recorded at 1,095,299 international students. Most of the OPT students are those who are working post studies under a few US regulations.
Sources also stated that out of all the international student population, 18% were Indian in 2018-19, however, their growth was relatively slow. In 2014-15 and 2015-16, the growth of Indian students in the US was at 29.4% and 24.9% respectively. This growth rate took a sharp fall in 2018-19 to a mere 2.9%.
Many experts have claimed that the US must not ignore the need for international students, especially at a time when many universities are fighting to stay open post-pandemic. While Ivy League Universities are well place, Tier 2 and Tier 3 universities need international students to enrol in their subjects. Through admissions of international students, these universities will be able to grow further and provide subsidised education to domestic students in the US.
Further, government data shows that international students have contributed significantly to the US Economy, over $44 billion. Indian students contributed $8.1 billion out of the $44 billion as they offer good human resources, which is one of the top requirements at US firms.
Sanjay Puri, a DC-based entrepreneur and Chairman of the US-India Political Action Committee, stated that the Biden administration may bring about a more generous student visa policy. Students may also see more opportunities to stay in the US post-studies. Different experts and Indian Americans state that a US education is an expensive ordeal, students expect a good return on their investment, especially Indians.
With inputs from The Mint