U.S. colleges tell overseas students: You are safe here
On a trip to India, the president of Portland State University reassured prospective students they’d be safe on his campus.
Purdue University sent overseas applicants a note from two mayors touting Indiana’s “friendly smiles” and hospitality.
And dozens of other schools produced online videos to welcome foreign students.
As U.S. colleges face new but significant declines in applications from abroad, many are rolling out marketing efforts to combat fears of harassment and concerns that President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration reflects a United States that is becoming less welcoming to foreigners.
“Students are telling us that they don’t feel safe here in the United States. That they’re concerned about discrimination, racism,” said Katharine Johnson Suski, admissions director at Iowa State University.
Some schools have come to rely on revenue from foreign students, whose enrolment has climbed sharply over much of the past decade, according to federal data.
But there is evidence enrolment figures at some schools could drop next fall. Nearly half the nation’s 25 largest public universities saw undergraduate applications from abroad fall or stagnate since last year, according to data colleges provided.
Safety concerns are nothing new among international students.
But some students have said Trump’s “America first” rhetoric and his proposal to ban immigration from six majority-Muslim nations have given them pause. Some application deadlines fell before the election, but even Trump’s campaign rhetoric cast doubts, experts say.
Along with India, fewer applications have been coming from China and Saudi Arabia, which previously sent large numbers to American colleges. Some experts have blamed the downturn on a “Trump effect.”