New York Times, As Flow of Foreign Students Wanes, U.S. Universities Feel the Sting:
Just as many universities believed that the financial wreckage left by the 2008 recession was behind them, campuses across the country have been forced to make new rounds of cuts, this time brought on, in large part, by a loss of international students.
Schools in the Midwest have been particularly hard hit — many of them non-flagship public universities that had come to rely heavily on tuition from foreign students, who generally pay more than in-state students.
The downturn follows a decade of explosive growth in foreign student enrollment, which now tops 1 million at United States colleges and educational training programs, and supplies $39 billion in revenue. International enrollment began to flatten in 2016, partly because of changing conditions abroad and the increasing lure of schools in Canada, Australia and other English-speaking countries.
And since President Trump was elected, college administrators say, his rhetoric and more restrictive views on immigration have made the United States even less attractive to international students. The Trump administration is more closely scrutinizing visa applications, indefinitely banning travel from some countries and making it harder for foreign students to remain in the United States after graduation.
While government officials describe these as necessary national security measures, a number of American colleges have been casualties of the policies. ...
Nationwide, the number of new foreign students declined an average of 7 percent this past fall, according to preliminary figures from a survey of 500 colleges by the Institute of International Education. Nearly half of the campuses surveyed reported declines.
Now that the revenue stream appears to be diminishing, the financial outlook may be dire enough to weigh down the bond ratings of some schools, making it more expensive for them to borrow money, according to Moody’s Investors Service. Last month, Moody’s changed its credit outlook for higher education to “negative” from “stable.”
“Growing uncertainty for international student enrollment stems from immigration policies that are in flux,” Moody’s said, warning that universities without global brand recognition would be hit hardest. While some flagship public and elite private colleges have been affected, the Institute of International Education said, the biggest impact will be felt by second-tier institutions.
The shift comes just as some states also are experiencing a drop in domestic students, partly the result of a decline in birthrates two decades ago. This year, the number of domestic undergraduate students dropped 224,000, or 1 percent, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.