Indian students form bulk of decline in US international student enrollment
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Indian students form bulk of decline in US international student enrollment

Indian students form bulk of decline in US international student enrollment

The US could soon experience a shrinking talent pool in Computer Science and Engineering fields, with studies on international student enrollment showing a sharp decline in Indian graduate-students applying for courses there.

Enrollment of Indian students in these courses dropped 21 percent, or 18,590 students, between 2016 and 2017, according to a recent report by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) citing analysis of data from the US Department of Homeland Security.

The drop represents more than half the overall 4 percent decline in total international student enrollment in the same period.

The downward trend, attributed to the Trump administration’s restrictive work and visa policies, is seen as worrying in that it will impact the American talent pool, the report said. International students, it pointed out, are especially vital to the US tech sector and university programs.

Statistics from 2015 show that at least 81 percent of the full-time graduate students enrolled at US universities in electrical engineering and 79 percent in computer science were international students.

It was only three years ago, under then-President Barack Obama, when the US reported seeing a large growth (29 percent) in the number of Indian students choosing to study there.

Since then, however, the Trump administration has published policies that make it much harder for students to obtain H-1B visas. The policies also include administration proposals which deauthorize spouses of H-1B visa holders from working and create lengthy waits for Indians attempting to obtain an employment-based green card.

The NFAP report draws upon another report by Inside Higher Ed which indicated the Trump administration’s 2017 travel bans against primarily Muslim countries had an impact on the decline in international student numbers.

Indian Computer Science and Engineering graduate students are well sought after by many US companies and their dwindling numbers may affect the economy. With more and more difficulties facing these students and graduates in the US, fewer are likely to stay on and work after graduating.

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