ISU Sees 20% Decrease in International Student Applications, Says Political Climate is Responsible

AMES, Iowa  --  Iowa State University is seeing fewer international applications as places of higher education are facing similar issues nationwide.

The school says  it has received 20% fewer international applications than the year before. Forty percent of colleges across the country also report reduced interest from international students, and ISU says the reason why is clear.

“Some of our students are just concerned about safety and how welcome they're going to be in the community. So with the executive orders issued, it has some of them a little concerned about will they be welcomed once they get to the U.S.,” said Director of Admissions Katharine Johnson Suski.

The executive orders aimed at stopping travel from several predominantly Muslim countries and President Trump’s campaign stance on China is not going unnoticed by potential students. ISU’s applications from China are down 30%, and those from predominantly Muslim countries are down 60% to 80%.

“Certainly it saddens me when students don't feel safe here because, really, we know students are going to be very welcome here and taken care of in Ames,” said Suski.

International student Waasay Mirza came to study from Pakistan, and says the problem is one of perception.

“I didn't feel uncomfortable, especially on this campus. People were really good, they helped me out,” said Mirza.

Mirza came four years ago to study electrical engineering, and said being an international student has changed his life for the better.

“You get a lot of exposure, you get to learn a lot of things, and not only that, you get to see and meet so many different cultures and different diverse communities that you learn a lot,” he said.

This is a message the college is trying to drive home as they participate in the national “You are Welcome Here Campaign."

“The You are Welcome Here Campaign will be a video of a lot of our students, faculty, and staff standing there saying ‘you are welcome,' some in their native languages so students can hear that message from across campus," said Suski.

Suski also said representatives from the school recently returned from a trip to China, where international alumni spoke to prospective students about coming to America to study.

ISU says while international applications to the United States are down, applications to schools in Canada are on the rise.