When President Trump won the 2016 election, many speculated that his America first, anti-immigration platform would lead to a significant drop in the number of international students at America’s universities. But our loyal readers may remember our crystal ball’s forecast at the time, one that foretold a drop in international applicants at universities across America with explicit exception to the highly selective ones such as the eight Ivy League schools, Stanford, Duke, MIT, Northwestern, Caltech, and others. Today, we figured we’d check in on these international student numbers at our nation’s highly selective universities. So are international student numbers up? Are they down? Are the results mixed? Wonder no more!
International Student Figures Are Marginally Up, Flat, and Marginally Down at Our Nation’s Elite Schools
As Won Gi Jung reports for The Stanford Daily in a piece entitled “Stanford in the 2010s: Stanford’s undergraduate student body is more international than ever. But how about the 2020s?,” the percentage of international students in the undergraduate student body at Stanford has risen from 9.1% in 2016-2017 to 10.68% in 2019-2020. At UPenn, the figure has risen from 12% in 2016-2017 to 13% in 2019-2020. At Cornell, Brown, Princeton, and Harvard, the figure has stayed flat at 10%, 11%, 12%, and 12%, respectively (Princeton and Harvard’s data is through the 2018-2019 academic year whereas Cornell and Brown’s figures are through 2019-2020). At Yale, the figure has dropped from 11% in 2016-2017 to 10% in 2019-2020.
The Pandemic May Lead to a Sharp Decrease in International Students for the 2020-2021 Academic Year
So at our nation’s elite universities, international student numbers have more or less stayed the same since the beginning of the Trump administration. At some of these highly selective schools, the numbers are marginally up, while at others they’ve flatlined or are marginally down. And with the COVID-19 pandemic — something we surely did not foresee back in late 2016 — threatening the ability of many international applicants to matriculate to U.S. universities next year, it will certainly be interesting to see how the 2020-2021 international figures stack up to years past. So stay tuned!
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