Foreign students cool on US, UK after Trump, Brexit: report

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Donald Trump’s election as president and Britain’s decision to exit the European Union has chilled foreign students on studying at US and UK colleges and universities, according to a report by Hotcourses Group.

The global web-based course and university search service says Indian and Middle Eastern students seem especially leery of studying in the US in light of the political climate stirred by Trump’s election and travel bans promulgated against citizens from some Muslim nations.

The release of “Brexit Report: How has global demand for higher education shifted over the last 12 months?” also follows several shooting incidents in the US in which Indian Americans have been killed in suspected cases of anti-immigrant violence.

Students from China showed more interest in studying at US colleges and universities despite Trump’s election on November 11, while their interest in British schools was flat. Singaporean students were noticeably less keen on attending both British and US institutions.

Overall, European student interest in studying in Britain has also slipped several percentage points since the UK voted to leave the EU on June 23, 2016.

“Over the last 12 months, the US has been particularly hard hit from the Middle East and the UK is particularly hard hit from Europe. Although not exclusively, this is clearly in large part due to the two biggest political events over the last 12 months: the election of President Donald Trump and Brexit,” the report’s author, Aaron Porter, said in a statement.

London-based Hotcourses specializes in university and course searches for domestic and international students and adult learning. The report’s findings are based on data from over 34 million prospective students who use the firm’s international websites. It compares demand for the 12 months between June 24, 2015 and June 23, 2016 vs. the 12 months from from June 24, 2016.

Indians prefer Canada

The report notes that the share of Indian students considering a US university or college has fallen to 27% from 36.4% (-9.4%) in the past 12 months.

Canada, in comparison, has seen the share of Indian interest in attending its schools soar to 22.6% from 7.7% (+14.9%).

General international student interest in studying at Canadian schools jumped to 10.6% from 4.9% (+5.7%).

Middle Eastern students mulling attending a US school dropped to 30.4% from 35.9% (-5.5%).

General foreign student interest in studying in the US has fallen to 31.9% from 35.7% (-3.8%).

Overall foreign student interest in the UK, following Brexit, has fallen to 25.6% of the global share from 28% (-2.4%). Specific interest from European students in attending British institutions has fallen to 30.7% from 36.9% (-6.2%).

Interest from Middle Eastern students in attending British schools was nearly flat at 33.4% vs. 33.5% but was up marginally in Saudi Arabia.

Thai interest in US institutions edged down to 23.9% from 25.9% (-2%). But it rose to a 39.4% share on the British side from 37.8% (+1.6%).

China, Singapore data

Hotcourses communications head Katie Duncan noted the educational search service doesn’t have a strong user base in China and did not include Chinese student data in its report.

But the company said in a separate data breakout to Asia Times, based on its users, that interest from Chinese students in studying at US schools rose to 35.4% from 30.8% (+4.6%). Interest in the UK, however, dropped to 22.7% from 36.1% (-13.4%).

In another separate breakout for Asia Times, Hotcourses said the share of Singaporean students looking at British schools fell to 22.7% from 36.1% (-13.4%). Interest in US schools fell to 12.3% from 17.4% (-5.1%).

“[The data’s taken] from the same dates as the Brexit report so it’s comparable,” Duncan said.

Doug Tsuruoka is Editor-at-Large of Asia Times

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