Higher education remains one of the largest top services exported by the United States. In fact, American colleges and universities attract more than a million international students annually. Higher education generates $42 billion in revenue for the US. Thus, it’s more lucrative than some agricultural exports like corn and soybeans. According to research conducted by Pew Research Center in 16 developed economies, American colleges and universities are held in high regard in these economies. Approximately 59% of adults surveyed alluded that they considered US universities as either the best globally or above average.
A Decline in the Number of International Students
However, 2020 was incredibly disruptive to different sectors of the economy education included. While all students were affected, international students were more affected since they live in other countries. Many of them lost their jobs due to pandemic-related factors and were left stranded in the US. The disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic is evident in the enrollment rates of students in American colleges and universities. According to a study conducted by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in partnership with the US State Department, there was a 72% decline in the number of international students studying in the US from 2020 through 2021.
The findings of the IIE research indicate that about 55000 fewer Chinese students studied in US colleges in 2020. This is besides the fact that there has been a slow but steady decline in the number of Chinese students studying in America recently. While the main reason for this decline is still unknown, some observers have attributed such decline to the tense bilateral relations between the US and China, especially during the Trump administration. It is important to note that Asia is the biggest contributor to international students in the US. Indeed, China sends 30% of the students, followed by India with 18%, and South Korea with 4%.
While the outbreak of COVID affected Universities and colleges, it also affected private high schools. The decline in international students (F-1) affected most private high schools since most of them were not ready for the disruptions. The transition to online learning has not been a rosy affair. Indeed, the high rates of dropouts occurred during the pandemic period which affected these schools financially. However, with the return of international students, is a sign of better days to come.
Challenges & Opportunities for Recovery
There have been positive reports about the return of international students to the US. About 70% have reported an increase in international students in the last fall according to IIE’s recent report. The increase is partly due to new students who had intended to enroll for studies in the US before the outbreak of the pandemic. However, some experts worry that the increase in international students might only benefit already popular institutions. They argue that smaller institutions and community colleges might take a longer time to recover from the pandemic losses.
While a majority of US colleges and universities resumed physical learning, not all international students have returned to campus. Some have been restricted by travel bans and new vaccine requirements for foreign travelers. However, with many institutions adopting remote learning during the pandemic period, students from abroad continue to learn online. The versatility of online learning is a blessing in disguise for various colleges and universities in the United States as it has helped the scale down enrolment setbacks.
Despite competition from other colleges and universities in Australia, Britain, and Canada, education officials are optimistic for better days. Their optimism is partly due to the US government sending vaccines overseas and relaxing travel barriers. Other officials credit Biden’s administration for the return of international students to the US. Through the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, the administration issued a statement promising a renewed commitment to international education by ensuring that every overseas student feels at home in America.
Therefore, from the current trends, American institutions need to be optimistic for better days. If the numbers are anything to go by, the situation might gain normalcy soon hence aiding recovery from the impacts of the pandemic. For more exciting articles about American Education, you can visit our Blog page, Tenney School. if you are in Houston and need a school, contact us today.