The number of international students in the U.S. fell by 2.2 percent at the undergraduate level and 5.5 percent at the graduate level from fall 2016 to 2017, according to a new report from the National Science Foundation, “Science and Engineering Indicators,” released last week.
The analysis is based on government-held student visa data and excludes students who are participating in optional practical training, a program that allows international students to stay and work in the U.S. for up to three years after graduating while remaining on their university’s sponsorship.
The declines come on the heels of years of steady growth (see line graph below) in overall international enrollments at U.S. universities and amid widespread concern that prospective new students could be deterred by the current political climate and uncertainty about immigration policies in the United States.
The declines, if they were to continue, could have negative implications for U.S. competitiveness and the health of American …
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