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Despite a stricter immigration regime under United States of America president Donald Trump, the fall of 2017 has seen India post the largest growth in a number of students being sent to the US for studies. As per the Fall 2017 International Student Enrollment Hot Topics Survey by Institute of International Education (IIE) in cooperation with other US-based educational bodies, as against a 6.8 per cent growth by China, India was up by 12.3 per cent. "For the third year in a row, the largest growth was in the number of students from India, primarily at the graduate level and in optional practical training (OPT). China remains the top sending country, with almost twice the number of students in the US as India, but India's rate of growth outpaced China's," the national survey of US higher education institutions stated. As per the survey, students from the top two countries of origin-China and India-now represent approximately 50 per cent of the total enrollment of international students in the United States. China remains the top sending country, with almost twice the number of students in the US as India. While China saw a number of students going to the US grow from 328,547 in 2015-16 to 350,755 in 2016-17 or 32.5 per cent of all international students in the US, India grew from 165,918 to 186,267 or 17.3 per cent for the said period. However, visa application process issues or visa delays/denials have raised concerns about the drop in new enrollment for Fall 2017. In particular, several institutions specifically commented about experiencing difficulties with visa denials for Indian students. The survey's respondents listed visa application process issues or visa delays/denials as the top reason for Fall 2017 drops in new enrollment. In fact, Percentage of institutions citing this issue grew from 33.8 per cent in Fall 2016 to 68.4 per cent in Fall 2017. "In particular, several institutions specifically commented about experiencing difficulties with visa denials for Indian students.
The issue of visa delays or denials as a factor in declining new enrollments most significantly impacted Master's colleges and universities (82.0 per cent) and community colleges (72.0 per cent). Similarly, a significantly higher proportion of survey respondents note potential problems at the port of entry, from 4.6 per cent in Fall 2016 up to 31.6 per cent in 2017," the survey reported. Apart from students from China and India to the US growing by 6.8 per cent and 12.3 per cent, Vietnamese students increased by 4.8 per cent. Apparently, with concerns about maintaining or increasing enrollments from the West Asia and North Africa and Asia, institutions are increasingly focusing recruitment on specific countries, particularly in China, India, and Vietnam. Concerns, however, have risen about recruitment for Fall 2018, particularly from the West Asia and North Africa and Asia. "Institutions express the most concern about recruiting students from the Middle East and North Africa (75.9 per cent) likely due to changes in the eligibility requirements of the Saudi Arabian government's scholarship program and potential concerns about travel restrictions to the United States," as per the survey. Institutions also report elevated concerns about recruiting international students from Asia (excluding China and India) (72.3 per cent), China (70.9 per cent), and India (67.8 per cent). With two-thirds of all international students in the US from Asia, apprehensions are likely related to the fact that any shifts in student interest would significantly impact overall enrollment. Meanwhile, institutions cite continuing to prioritise international student outreach and recruitment in Asia, particularly China (67.1 per cent), Vietnam (50.7 per cent), and India (47.7 per cent). Source: Fall 2017 International Student Enrollment Hot Topics Survey by Institute of International Education (IIE)