Institutions in the US with pre-existing global reputation saw an increase in international student applications in 2020-21, a year-on-year report by BridgeU found after analysing around 120,000 applications from 120 countries.
The paper also highlighted that the number of applications per student has increased although the total number of overall applications to US institutions fell in the 2020-21 academic year.
International students are applying earlier but are not going for deadlines such as Early Decision or Restrictive Early Action. Both of them saw a significant decline, the report held.
According to the analysis, priority deadlines saw a whopping uptick of 238% and early action applications increased by 6.2%.
Although private and large public universities in the US saw an increase in the number of international student applications, the data suggests a different picture of applications received by less selective institutions across the country - particularly in Midwest, Northwest and Mid-Atlantic.
Universities in Michigan, Virginia and North Carolina saw the highest jumps in applications, the report added.
In addition, international student enrollment is considered more important now than ever because of a continuing overall drop in domestic high school enrollment. International higher education enrollments to institutions in the US also fell by 43%.
A report published by ICE found that US schools witnessed a 72% drop in international student enrollment in 2020 as compared to 2019. The Northeast, one of the early epicenters of Covid-19 also saw a 19.4% decline and became the region with the highest international student enrollment decline from 2019 to 2020.
The BridgeU further found that international students submitted more applications to QS Top 50 Universities, leading to them witnessing a 4% increase in enrollment.
The 2020-21 academic year also recorded a similarity in international and domestic student applications in many key aspects. Like their domestic counterparts, international students have also become more ambitions with their applications.
Researchers added that domestic and international students opting for lower-ranked US institutions poses a challenge for these institutions as they will now try to promote their unique college experience along with differentiating their brand.
BridgeU founder and CEO Lucy Stonehill said that although universities have continued to grow despite a general drop in applications, these have mostly been those with global brand recognition.
Universities must look for new ways to meet the new technological and digital demands as well as change the ways how students interact with them.
The report further suggested that US institutions may now be enjoying a “Brexit bounce” as Europe was the only prime region to see year-on-year increase in international applications. While it saw a 4.2% increase in BridgeU applications, Asia witnessed a decline of 13%, Americas of 10.2%, Africa of 3.4% and Middle East of 1.2%.
The report concluded by pointing out that 2021 may start a new trend in international admissions. However, it is currently still unclear.