Fewer Foreign Students Are Enrolling in US Colleges

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. slowdown / ˈsloʊˌdaʊn / (n) – a decrease or decline

    The increase in tuition caused the slowdown in student enrollment.

  2. attribute to / əˈtrɪˌbjuːt tuː / (phrasal) – to claim that something happened as a result of something else

    Mae attributes her success to her family’s support.

  3. drive (someone) away / draɪv əˈweɪ / (phrasal) – to cause someone to go away

    The rude salesperson is driving customers away.

  4. tuition / təˈwɪʃən / (n) – money paid to study in a school

    My school’s tuition increased this year.

  5. prospect / ˈprɑːˌspɛkt / (n) – the chance for something to happen

    Doing well in your studies can give you good prospects of getting a scholarship.


Read the text below.

A recent report showed that the number of foreign students enrolling at US colleges for the first time is declining.

The slowdown started in the 2015-2016 school year. From more than 300,700 new foreign student enrollments in that school year, the number went down to around 271,000 in the 2017-2018 school year. It has been the lowest figure since 2013.

Findings were based on the results of the Open Doors Report, which gives details about the number of foreign students in the United States and American students in other countries yearly. The report was released during a briefing on November 13 in Washington, D.C.

The Institute of International Education (IIE) president attributed the decline to the competition from colleges in other countries. In 2017, many foreign students chose to apply to schools in Canada and Australia instead of the United States.

The IIE senior advisor of research and strategy said that the increasing costs of education in the United States may also be driving foreign students away. Because of the rising value of the US dollar, tuition in some US universities has become not as affordable as that in other countries. Other countries also offer free tuition and prospects to obtain citizenship.

Although the number of new foreign students in the United States is decreasing, the overall number of existing foreign students remains high. Currently, the country is hosting more than one million foreign students. Many of these students stay in the United States because of the Optional Practical Training. It is a program that allows foreign students to stay in the country to work for one to three years.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What do you think is the top reason why foreign students do not choose to study in the United States? Explain.
• Aside from the Optional Practical Training program, what other initiatives can US colleges do to appeal to more foreign students (e.g. scholarships, job guarantee)? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Why do you think it is important for countries to host foreign students?
• If you were a foreign student, would you want to stay in your host country or immediately go back to your home country? Explain.