International student rates decline nationwide

With reports from Tech having stating the university has “approximately 10,500 students enrolled at Tech for the fall semester, including more than 1750 new Freshman,” according to a website posting from Sept. 15, there is still one enrollment number that is down.

Tennessee Tech’s international student numbers are declining, at least according to the last two budget analyses available online. The Oct. 2015-2016 reasoning being quoted as “unanticipated decline in international student enrollment.”

The Fall 2015 international student enrollment numbers were 962 students, with the Fall 2017 students declining to 545 students according to Tech officials.

Tech officials attributed the decline to the national decline in international enrollment.

“The value of the U.S. dollar to the foreign currency in some countries prices many students out (for example, if the out-of-state cost of tuition and room-and-board is $16,896.50 in U.S. dollar, the cost in the Brazilian Real would be $53,132.73),” Karen Lykins said in an email sent to Oracle staff.

Tech also says the increase in competition for international student recruitment has caused a problem in the decline, “Australian and Chinese universities are becoming factors in the international student market.”

According to Insider Higher Ed’s report, “nearly 40 percent” of universities are seeing a drop in international student undergraduate application. Numerous other stories have been written about the issue, including those from the New York Times and The Atlantic

Most reports point to the intense change in political climate in the United States after the election of President Donald Trump, and his pervasive comments on international affairs. The widely criticized temporary travel ban in January could also be a factor. Also with continuing comments about the Middle East, numbers from that region are “certainly expected to drop” according to the Inside Higher Ed report.

However, an article from the Washington Post published in July, claims that demand seems to be steady. They quoted Rajika Bhandari of the Institute of International Education as having said, “The situation is not as dire as what had been predicted.”

According to the proposed Tech July 2017-2018 budget, a loss of $1.75 million is expected due to “anticipated continuation of international student enrollment decline.” However, this could also be attributed to the “R-250 tuition discount”, which decreases the cost of out-of-state tuition and was a reason in the Oct. 2016-17 budget analysis.