Trump Administration Student Visa Policy Leaves an Impression on Prospective International Students

trump international students

What effect did the Trump administration’s recent international student visa policy have on prospective international students, and how do students feel about the US’s response to the pandemic? 

Although the Trump administration has cancelled plans to revoke international student visas for those enrolled in remote-only classes this fall, the decision has made an impact on student perceptions of the US, according to recent QS research on the topic.   

Shortly after the news of the student visa policy broke, QS sent out a pulse survey to our prospective international student pool for those interested in studying in the US. Nearly 2,000 student responses came—just in time for the Trump administration to reverse its decision. 

This survey can shed light on how students perceive the US response to the pandemic, and what those actions may signal to international students still planning to apply to a US institution. 

According to the pulse survey, 39% of prospective international students said that they were less interested in studying in the US after hearing about the new student visa policy, while 6% were unsure. 

While 63% said that they would continue to apply for the same degree following the policy announcement, nearly one-third said that they were now considering applying for a course that guaranteed face-to-face instruction. 

These findings suggest that, despite the fact that the student visa policy on remote learning was repealed, prospective international students have been given a glimpse into how the US government is responding to the pandemic and how it will affect their study plans. 

A recent QS student survey on the impact of the coronavirus reveals how prospective international students view the US response to the pandemic.    

According to our ongoing coronavirus survey, 54% of prospective international students said that the way different governments have managed the coronavirus in their own country have made them reconsider where to study overseas.    

When asked which country they thought had handled the coronavirus the best, 28% of respondents chose New Zealand as the nation they thought best handled the crisis. Every other country (on a list of the top 12) was ranked far below New Zealand—12% of respondents chose China, 9% chose Germany, and 8% chose South Korea.    

At the bottom of this list, the US and UK were selected by just 2% of respondents respectively, suggesting that prospective international students may be changing their study plans, further dissuaded from countries where the pandemic continues to surge.  

In this year’s International Student Survey (ISS) US, we dug deeper on how students really feel about the US as a study destination.  

Although the ISS was completed prior to public awareness of the global pandemic, the results still offer a strong barometer from which to gauge the changing attitudes of international students towards the US. 

In this year’s ISS US, over 19,000 prospective international students answered questions on a host of US-specific topics such as Trump administration policies, gun violence, US tuition costs, and more. 

To learn more about the motivations for prospective international students applying to the US, how they feel about the US political climate and current safety concerns, and a range of other factors in how international students choose a study destination and institution, read the report: New Pathways for International Education in an Age of Global Disruption. 


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