US Colleges look beyond China to Recruit Foreign Students

In a bid to boost the budget, that have come to rely on tuition dollars from international students, US colleges have turned their recruiting efforts towards the Middle East, South Asia and Latin America due to the decline in students from China.

Even though Chinese students make up for 31 percent of all international students in the US, an increase from 62,000 to 328,000 in the last decade; the growth has been slow. According to a federal data released by the Institute of International Education, the number of Chinese students at U.S. colleges grew by 8 percent last year, the smallest uptick since 2005.

Due to the sluggish economy of China and sharper competition from colleges in Australia and other countries, some colleges are bracing for a decline in International college admissions.

Colleges seek international students, partly to boost campus diversity, but they also bring a financial perk. Most colleges do not offer scholarships to international students, and charge them full scholarships. Therefore, losing college students could affect college budgets, especially at a time when some public universities are struggling with continuing drops in State funding.

This year, the University of Massachusetts Amherst made its first recruiting trip to Mexico and also bolstered its work in Singapore and Vietnam. Instead of sending recruiters to China this year, Bucknell University in Pennsylvania focused on India and sent admissions officials to South America for the first time in about a decade.

Other schools are exploring options from Sub-Saharan Africa. With a growing youth population and middle classes, two of the factors US colleges look for, countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia and Angola are prospective locations for recruiters. Though, some say the governments of the region don’t offer enough funding to help students study abroad.

Australia specifically, has rapidly managed to grow as a destination for foreign students, attracting 240,000 students last year with a yearly uptick of 6 percent. According to the national data, US colleges, which attracted 1 million international students last year, still have space to host far more students than other nations.

Other countries where US schools see promising recruitments are Cuba, Nigeria and India, which sent 165,000 students to the US last year, a 25 percent jump in a year. Students from Nepal and Vietnam are also among the fastest-growing groups coming to the U.S.

Even though colleges are expanding their reach, they don’t expect a single country to match China in terms of providing international recruitments. Instead, colleges say they aim to diversify their global enrollment to shield it from national swings.

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