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The Number of Indian Students Attending US Universities set to Decline Sharply

March 2017, 30
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Indian Students Attending US Universities
The most recent Open Doors Report issued in November 2016 shows a 26 percent decline in the number of applications to US universities. A full version of the report is due any day.

The Open Doors Report is sponsored via a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State. It’s a comprehensive study on international students and teachers at higher education establishments in the US and US students studying abroad. The Open Doors survey is carried out by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, The Institute of International Education, the Association of International Educators,  the subgroup International Association for College Admission Counselling (ACAC) and the National Association for College Admission Counselling (NACAC).

The report shows a 26 percent fall in undergraduate applications and a 15 percent fall in graduate applications from India with an overall 40 percent decline in international applicants. There has also been a decline of 25 percent of undergraduate applications and 32 percent of graduate applications from China. Students from India and China make up 47 percent of international students studying in the US.

The US is the most popular choice for international students wanting to study abroad. It’s a common pathway to eventual residency for many highly skilled graduates wanting to live and work in the US. These graduates fill a skills gap, particularly in technology and engineering for the US. A decline will cause further concern for US high-tech industries. These students and graduates are important contributors to both the US and home economies. 

The concern is that the new Trump presidency which has brought travel bans, visa concerns, and restrictions to the H1B visa used by many firms to employ highly skilled international students, is fuelling the decline in international students to the US. The demonetization policy and the weakness of the rupee against the American dollar may also be contributing. 

American universities are worried about the decline in international students particularly from India and China and a number have commented on the issue since the report. 

Rumours also abound that the Optional Practical Training (OPT) programme which allows students to work for one to three years in the US on their student visa, before going on to gain H1B, may also suffer restrictions.

The hope is that no further restrictions will occur, and the US will settle into the new presidential administration and continue to welcome the many international students and graduates keen to work and study in the US. 

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