Trump, drop in Saudi oil prices make US less attractive to international students - survey
The drop in interest comes from a 'significant minority'. Source: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque.

The appeal of the United States as a study destination is reportedly on the decline again, a new survey by higher education consultants Royall & Company found.

According to Inside Higher Ed, while 61 percent of the 200,000 prospective students polled say politics did not influence their interest, one-third of students globally say political events in the US have made them less interested to study there – painting what experts deem could be the clearest picture of the impact the Trump administration has made on the country’s appeal as a study destination.

“It doesn’t surprise me we have a large number of concerned students,” Anna Swanson, managing director of analytics at Royall, told Inside Higher Ed.

Current political affairs in the US are impacting these students’ keenness, according to Swanson, who said though they only make up a minority, they represent a significant minority.

Only six percent of respondents showed more interest to study in the US.

Previous surveys have either predicted international enrolment is declining or stayed relatively stable after the election of real-estate tycoon Donald Trump to the White House.

However, in surveys that showed overall decline has been minor, universities located in the US’ south were found to suffer a greater drop in international interest. Many international students also report concerns over their safety and ability to obtain a visa.

Trump isn’t the only political phenomena affecting the decision of prospective international students to study in the US, according to Swanson.

Students from Saudi Arabia are also affected by their government’s overhaul of scholarship programmes, as the country faced budget shortfalls from the drop in Saudi oil prices.

In short, these just “aren’t favourable” to universities’ recruitment drives. Instead, messages should be welcoming and showing a commitment to work with students that come from abroad

“Say, ‘these are the ways in which we are welcoming. We are going to integrate you into the campus. And this is about how our student body feels’,” Swanson said.

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