Study Reveals Decline in Number of International Graduate Student Applicants

A recent study released by the Council of Graduate Schools, aWashington-based nonprofit, shows a significant decline in thenumber of international students applying to the country’stop graduate programs. The study, based on responses from 126institutions, showed a 28 percent decline in international studentapplications at U.S. graduate schools.

According to Kathie Bailey Mathae, FederalRelations Officer with the Association of American Universities(AAU), several factors contributed to the drop. The main reason isthat international students have a very tough time securing a visain a timely manner. Since the September 11th terroristattacks, security policies and procedures on students from othercountries have become increasingly exhaustive.

“A lot of them were already in placebefore 9/11,” says Mathae, “but they got tightened upsubstantially after 9/11.”

Another cause is the increased recruitmentefforts by other countries – namely Canada, Australia, andEngland.

Lastly, Mathae believes “there is aperception among international students that the United States isno longer a welcoming country.” She feels this is a directresult of the war and heightened homeland security after 9/11.

Maria Lugo, Director of International Studentand Scholar Services at Norfolk State University (NSU), says thatthey have not witnessed a decline in international studentapplications. Actually, NSU has seen an increase which sheattributes to marketing and recruitment efforts on behalf of theschool. Lugo feels that the visa issue has the biggest effect oninternational students deciding whether or not to pursue graduatestudy in the U.S.

“I do believe it’s going to havean impact on student enrollment overall with all the hurdles thatstudents have to go through.”

The Association of American Universitiesrecently sent a series of recommendations to the Department ofHomeland Security, key members of Congress, and many otherorganizations and individuals urging them to take action. One ofthe suggested changes is to establish a balanced visa processingsystem. According to the graduate student enrollment study, suchmeasures are necessary to “avert a serious decline ininternational educational, scientific, and research exchanges tothe United States.”