Dec 15, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

There’s been rampant speculation regarding the state of inbound exchange in the US under the Trump administration. Now that we’re halfway through the academic year, is reality matching up to the anticipated downturn? Yes, according to a recent Institute of International Education study of just under 500 universities across the country, as reported by the New York Times. Here’s a closer look at the numbers, along with other key insights.

Uncertainty Abounds

According to the data, 45 percent of campuses reported drops in enrollments in the fall of 2017 for an average decline of seven percent across all of the surveyed universities.

Said Rajika Bhandari, the Institute’s head of research, ““It’s a mix of factors. Concerns around the travel ban had a lot to do with concerns around personal safety based on a few incidents involving international students, and a generalized concern about whether they’re safe.”

Experts also attribute the phenomenon to increased competition from Canada, Britain, Australia and others. Additionally, decreased funding for international scholarships in countries like Brazil and Saudi Arabia may also factor into the dip.

Worth noting, however? The trend actually began before Trump took office: 2016-2017 saw a three percent drop in numbers.

Brighter News

Not all countries are sending fewer students to the US, however. Take China, for example. Not only did the country maintain its status as the leading sending country, but its numbers continued to increase from 2015-2016 to 2016-2017, according to the South China Morning Post. In sum, Chinese students make up roughly 35 percent (350,755) of all international students in the US.

There is a catch, however: While the number of students did grow, it grew at a slower rate than in past years. According to Shanghai-based education consultant Gu Huini, while the US is still popular, other destinations are coming on strong. “In the past two years, more and more parents are asking us about Canadian universities,” he said. “Canada is their new favorite, as it offers lower living costs than large US cities and is safer than the US in people’s minds.”

The country topping the list for rate of growth, meanwhile? India, at a considerable 12 percent.

Read more about studying in the US.






Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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