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Why Are International Students Turning Their Back On American Colleges?

Evidence is mounting that the U.S. is becoming a less attractive place for international students to study.

The latest sign: A report published Thursday by the Council of Graduate Schools, which found that applications from international students to U.S. graduate schools dropped 4% between fall 2017 and fall 2018, the second year in a row of declines. First-time graduate student enrollment is also down 1% for the second year in a row.

It’s hard to point to a definitive reason why international graduate student applications and enrollment is down, but the political climate is likely playing a role. President Donald Trump famously initiated a ban on people entering the U.S. from multiple Muslim-majority countries, all of which have historically sent students to America to study. U.S. graduate school applications from Iran, one of the countries targeted by the travel ban, fell 27% between fall 2017 and fall 2018.

In addition to the travel ban, the Trump administration has floated changes to student visas that would curtail the amount of time international students can stay in the U.S. What’s more, officials have also reportedly weighed putting more restrictions on Chinese students entering the U.S. out of a concern they may be spying for their home country during their time here.