Skip to Content

### Decline in Chinese Students Enrolling in US Universities: Causes and Implications

The U.S. State Department reports a decline of approximately 20,000 visas granted to Chinese students last year compared to the period before the COVID-19 outbreak. This decrease has prompted many Chinese students to explore alternative destinations for their higher education, such as the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.

Among them is Helen Dong, a student from Shanghai, who expressed worries about the escalating expenses of pursuing higher education in the U.S. Consequently, she has opted to study advertising in Hong Kong later this year due to the comparatively lower costs.

Yvonne Wong, also from Shanghai, chose to study literature and culture at the University of Bristol in Britain citing safety concerns. She highlighted the issue of gun violence in the U.S. as a major factor influencing her decision, emphasizing that the U.K. is perceived as a safer option by her family.

The strained relations between the U.S. and China have further contributed to the decline in Chinese students pursuing education in the U.S. Chinese officials point to policies, such as the executive order by former President Donald Trump, which restricted students from Chinese military-linked schools, as well as reported instances of unfair treatment towards Chinese students upon their arrival in the U.S.

Additionally, the desire for an international educational experience among young Chinese individuals, particularly those whose parents studied abroad, has fueled a shift towards considering educational opportunities in countries like Britain, Canada, and Australia.

While Chinese students’ interest in studying in the U.S. has waned, some experts, like Fanta Aw, Executive Director of NAFSA, highlight the importance of international education as a means of fostering connections between nations. Despite the decline in Chinese students attending U.S. universities, the educational landscape continues to evolve with a growing focus on recruiting students from India and sub-Saharan Africa for advanced degree programs.

The impact of this shift is not only felt in the educational realm but also economically, as the reduced number of Chinese students in the U.S. translates to a significant loss in revenue for the country. However, the allure of academic opportunities and prestige associated with American universities remains strong, positioning them as leading institutions in the global education sector.