Sharp Decline in Indian Students Applying to US Universities


In the last few years, Indian students preferred pursuing their undergraduate and graduate education in US universities. They shift to the United States in search of better opportunities and a better quality of education. Due to this, there was a rise in Indian students applying to US universities. But, this year according to ‘Open Doors 2016’, has witnessed a reduction in Indian students pursuing their education in the United States. One of the main reasons for this fall is the perception that the conditions in the United States are less welcoming to international students.

What and How

A survey was conducted among 250 American colleges by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, Association of International Educators, Institute of International Education, International Association for College Admission Counseling (ACAC), and National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). The survey said that 47 percent of the international students who apply to US universities are from India and China. At present, there are close to half a million Indian and Chinese students studying in the United States.

The survey also mentioned that there was a 26 percent decline in the undergraduate applicants and 15 percent decline in the graduate applicants in the fall admissions. There was also a 40 percent drop in the total international applicants this year. As per the survey, a 25 percent decline was reported amongst Chinese students for undergraduate courses and 32 percent decline for graduate courses.

The full version of the report ‘Open Doors 2016’ will be released in a few days.

Expert Opinion

Portland State’s President, Wim Wiewel said that the current orders regarding visa applications are affecting the decisions made by students applying this year. He also said that these orders could also affect applicants in the future. The difference of the Indian rupee compared to the Dollar value and the demonetization policy were also important factors for this change. There was a 27 percent drop in the Indian students applying to Portland University this fall.

He was also surprised to note that even though tough executive orders were issued, students are still eager to pursue higher education in the US. He noted that in south India, every family in the middle class has a relative in the United States. If the conditions do not worsen, they will be able to bounce back from this situation.

Senior associate vice provost for international education, State University of New York at Buffalo, John J Wood said that many universities were concerned about the decline of master’s students from India. He said that many Indian students apply for the master’s program in order to work in the US through Optional Practical Training initially and then apply for an H1-B visa eventually.

At present, it is difficult for students in India to apply for a master’s degree because there is uncertainty involved. The possible changes to the rules of H1-B visa is a major concern.

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