President Donald Trump’s tenor has not fallen on deaf ears outside of the United States.
About one-third of 2,100 high school juniors and seniors surveyed in different countries said they are less likely to consider attending a college or university in the U.S. because of the political climate, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The decreasing interest could have an impact on the University of Houston, of which 9.1 percent of the student body is international.
“Going to any country is difficult,” said Nazir Pandor, the vice president of the International Students Organization. “You have to go through embassies, and you have to go through financial records, and you have to go through so many different things: background checks, security checks, health safety checks – so many things to get a student visa. So, add on to that list and make it more difficult. Of course, people are going to think, ‘OK, what am I going to do?’”
The survey, conducted by Royall and Company several weeks after the Trump administration’s first travel ban was announced, showed that the most common concerns were the U.S. presidential administration, travel restrictions, personal safety and the cost of studying in the United States.
Fewer enrolled international students would have a financial impact on the University, according to the Chronicle’s coverage. Anita Gaines, the director of UH’s International Student and Scholar Services, said international students pay a higher tuition compared to in-state students.
“International students are charged the non-resident rate for tuitions and fees,” Gaines said. “This rate is the same as any U.S. citizen that does not reside in Texas. The average non-Texas resident tuition rate is $915 per semester credit hour, or $10,980 for 12 semester credit hours, plus $491 in mandatory fees.”
Students from the areas impacted by Trump’s initial travel ban were most likely to say their interest in attending American universities has waned.
America’s reputation, Pandor said, is strong enough to withstand the decreased interest.
“You’re talking about America’s identity being there for hundreds of years, centuries, decades,” Pandor said. “You’re talking about a reputation that has gone through so many years, so (their interest) is not going to go away just because something like this happens… I think people will still want to come here. It’s a great place to be.”
With roughly 4,000 students from 128 countries, Pandor said international students find comfort knowing that there are students on campus from the same home country.
“I know from personal accounts of friends and colleagues who, when they came here, know that they have their little, small community of people that are from the same country,” Pandor said. “So knowing that you come here and you find that, ‘Hey, I can find people from where I’m from to be homesick a little less frequently,’ just to make it a little bit easier here – that helps.”
Ben Jarratt, a freshman biology major, said he thinks it’s important to have perspectives from international students on campus.
“Probably the most important reason (to have more international students) would be for outside inputs,” Jarratt said. “I mean, it’s really enlightening just being able to see how other people would go about simple tasks, or just different facets of their culture that they’re willing to share. It really helps you achieve a more wholesome and well-rounded education.”