American universities represent the most sought-after nexus of higher education for international students. However, in recent years, the United States has developed competition for that top spot from a Northern alley: Canada. Going back to last year, 39% out of 250 American colleges experienced a statistically significant drop in international student attendance, according to data from the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. An opposite trend was observed for Canadian universities, as they have reported a substantial increase in international student applications. In one instance, one of Canada’s most prestigious schools, University of Toronto, witnessed a roughly 20% upsurge in attendance.
Admissions and recruitment representatives concluded that, in large part, visa policy issues in the United States have precipitously contributed to the downturn of international student attendance. What is even more of a barrier (and a hassle) this: The Department of Homeland Security recently announced a proposition to force international students to re-apply every year to attend American colleges. Speaking of foreign policy, academic administrations and educational professionals believe that the “Trump Effect,” a sometimes tacit, but often quite explicitly negative attiude towards welcoming foreigners in the U.S., has had a stifling effect on the international students’ decisions. Because of the recent travel ban on -particularly- Muslim and Middle Eastern immigrants, and notable racially-based hate crimes, international students have begun choosing to apply to colleges in other countries. Many of them fear that their safety would be jeopardized. In comes Canada.
Beyond technical feasibility and cultural overlap, there is another incentive for international students to apply to a Canadian college: financial support. In the United States’ public (4-year) universities, international students are required to pay on average $24,930, and the students would most likely pay out of pocket. Meanwhile, students in Canada’s public colleges would pay about $17,264 within the same duration, and financial aid is provided. Although American colleges are still leading in education at a global standpoint, it is possible for them to fall out of the leaderboard if the U.S. continues to decline in international students, since they can rack up about $35 Billion for the United States economy. Higher education professionals have predicted that a couple of things would happen if international students continue to drop in number: more laid-off staff, cancelled programs, and increased tuition rates.
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