International Enrollment in the Us: A New Paradigm

Every year, thousands of students fly to Us to seek admission to the best universities. But, there remains a better fact that startles the enrollment ratio. Despite the advancement in the education sector of the U.S., the ratio of enrollment is declining. As per the data of higher education institutions (HEIs), the international student enrollment in the Us declined by 6.6 percent for the year 2017-18, which is double the decline witnessed in the last academic year. This sharp reversal in the enrollment ratio makes us doubt the current education scenario, which influences the uprise or decline of the enrollment ratio. 

Dynamics of International Student Mobility in the Us

Since there are multiple parameters on which the enrollment of international students takes place in the U.S., the dynamics are myriad as well. The main factors on which the flow of international students takes place in the U.S. include conditions of the source country, their competition from the other country, and their domestic policies. All these conditions together refer to what is being called as the new paradigm for international student recruitment. To know the various factors affecting the developments of international students mobilizing into the U.S. includes:

Traditional Source Countries 

Under this factor, the loss of inbound student mobility to the U.S. is affected by:

  • Loss/reduction of prominent scholarship for the international student
  • Improvement in domestic resources and higher education of the country
  • The declining population of the youths in countries like China, barely traveling out of the country for education

Competitor Countries

  • Comparatively lower tuition fees
  • Increased national support to internationalize higher education systems
  • The proliferation of scholarship opportunities for international students
  • The proliferation of English tutorials by the domestic institutes
  • Opportunities to leverage education to obtain work experience or to immigrate 


  • The increased cost of higher education 
  • Anti-immigrant political rhetoric
  • Increased visa delays or denials
  • Uncertain future of H-1B and other visa classes 

The Decline in Enrollment from International Countries. 

The major influx of international students n the U.S., the major population, comprises students from China and India. The enrollment ratio has witnessed sudden fluctuation from India, while the Chinese maintained an aggregated growth. While on the other hand, the enrollment from Saudi Arabia countered a 28% decline in the students during the two years from 16-18 with the loss of 16, 855 students. For the Brazilian population, the 25% decline reduced the number of enrollment by 4,750 students. But over time, the countries compensated the decline by increasing enrollment by 11% for Chinese, 18% for Indians, and aggregate growth for other international countries. 

There is a separate decline of 6.2% in the student enrollments at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Other issues that cause the decline in international student enrollment in the U.S. include lack of knowledge about the visa policies, dislike for the political climate, etc. 

Can the U.S. Compete in the New Paradigm for International Enrollment? 

Considering the entire scenario of the fluctuating international enrollment of international students in the U.S., the last question that remains is whether or not the U.S. can compete in the new paradigm for international enrollment. Since the U.S. gathers a large portion of the income from the international enrollments in the universities, the government tries to advance its policies. To increase the enrollment number, there are several measures that were taken. As per the report of IIE’s 2018 Enrollment Survey, in the last three years, the institutions reported :

  • Social and political climate prevents students from seeking to study in the U.S.
  • International students feel unwelcome in the international environment, customs, and traditions