Still, intensive English programs have always been more susceptible to market swings, their numbers fluctuating more widely than international enrollments overall.
People often talk about the impact of international enrollment declines on American higher education as a whole, and it’s true that international-student tuition has increasingly been baked into college budgets since the Great Recession. But it is often particular programs and schools that are especially vulnerable.
IEPs may be the most obvious example, but they’re not the only. For example, more than 55 percent of the doctorates awarded by American universities each year in engineering and mathematics and computer science go to student-visa holders.
Some business programs are sustained by international enrollments. International students account for four in 10 applicants to U.S. business schools
, yet their numbers have been dropping. Last year, international applications fell by nearly 14 percent
, even as interest in Canadian and European business programs grew.
In recent months, a handful of business schools such as Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management have shut down or paused full-time MBA programs. A major culprit in the closures is declining numbers of international students.
With the threat of closure looming, English-language programs will continue to scrap to stay afloat. Online education will likely not be a “temporary band-aid,” but a new avenue to reach students, said Julie Strecker, president of UCIEP, an association of college-based English programs.
Across all of higher education, weakening international enrollments are a hardship. For certain schools and programs, it may be a question of survival.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign took out an insurance policy to cover against losses of Chinese students due to politics, a pandemic, or other reasons in its engineering and business schools. But for all its foresight, Illinois may miss out on a large payout. Bureaucratic missteps delayed the university’s renewal of its 2018 policy, and it can no longer get pandemic, visa restriction, or sanctions coverage, Reuters reports