Coronavirus International News

International student enrollment affected by pandemic

international student enrollment decrease Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

With the ongoing pandemic, UH has seen a decline of international students enrolled along with other Texas universities.

While international student enrollment declined by 13 percent, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board as cited by the Houston Chronicle, UH experienced a six percent decline.

The coronavirus pandemic has not only taken a toll on the enrollment of international students, but on the decision for those from other countries to live on campus this semester.

“I’m staying on campus because traveling or moving around causes more risk for me and my family,” said hospitality management graduate student Ailin Fei. “I also have an on-campus job, so it works out better if I’m on campus.”

Fei lived on campus for three years during her undergraduate time at UH.

A portion of the struggle with some international students in these times is traveling and restrictions that come with it during the pandemic.

“I think it aligns with the times because due to travel restrictions, it is harder to relocate for school,” Fei said. “Even if someone is planning on taking all online classes, only certain students can do this depending on the program because international students still have to have the proper visa to be enrolled in the institution.”

“This makes things a lot harder for international students and it is simply not worth it. A lot goes into applying for a visa, and it’s kind of of a headache when I think of the process,” Fei added.

As an international student coming into college, there are three different visas possibly issued: F1 Visa, J1 Visa or M1 Visa. Both F1 and J1 allows for possible employment, while M1 does not.

Fei said there is a lot of misinformation regarding students holding on to their F1 visa during the pandemic. At the start of COVID-19, uncertainty hit those with an F1 visa as they were informed they had to have at least one face-to-face class, she said.

In Fall 2020, international students were about seven percent of incoming students, enrolling at about 3,273. This is a decrease compared to Fall 2018 and the 3,675 international students enrolled, and Fall 2014 with 4,025.

Other Texas universities experiencing this decline of international students is The University of Texas, Texas A&M and Rice University.

“I want to say that as an international student, tuition is almost two times as much as the resident tuition, especially when so many people have been impacted by the pandemic, it may not be feasible anymore to study abroad from their home country,” Fei said.

“I believe this attributes to the declining enrollment of international students.”

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