Diversity is thriving regardless of new immigration policies

A study by the Institute of International Education (IIE) found that despite the uncertainty felt by many institutions in the midst of immigration policies proposed by the Trump administration, international students are still enrolling in U.S schools.

The effects of the political climate surrounding immigration policy on the enrollment rate of international students for the fall semester seemed uncertain as indicated by a survey conducted by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers (AACRAO).

The researchers found that, overall, there was only a 2 percent drop in international student enrollment at the schools that responded to the study. Concerns found in the AACRAO survey were rooted in the perception that the U.S. is less welcoming to immigrants as well as the fear that benefits and restrictions around visas may change around the ability to travel, re-enter the country and possible employment opportunities.

Mishil Patel, Executive Vice President of Georgia State’s International Student Association Council (ISAC) said the council supplies international student organizations with the resources they need to organize themselves and support other international students.

“We did have people reach out to us last year,” Patel said. “If someone wants to try to see if they can get a different kind of visa to stay in the country or a work permit to be able to work while they’re here as an international student, we don’t assist with that. We work with the International Student & Scholar Services and that’s how we help those students.”     

Georgia States Director of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) Heather Housley acknowledged that the yield of international students has been low at some schools as the AACRAO survey indicated.

“We know that there’s, around the country, a downturn in yield of international students, so we’ve been trying to counteract that with additional communication and outreach,” Housley said.

ISSS held four days of orientation for international students to help them become acclimated to the U.S., Atlanta and the Georgia State campus. Students were given campus tours and were treated to a “Global Grill-Out” welcoming party at Georgia State’s new stadium. This year, ISSS has been communicating more with its students by emailing them more information about international student services  -all in an effort to make international students feel more welcomed.  

In the fall of 2016, international enrollment made up 6 percent of Georgia State’s total enrollment and the number of international enrollments continued to grow rapidly from 2081 to 3076 after the Perimeter consolidation.

Currently, international student enrollment for Fall 2017 is at 21 percent,” said a spokesperson for the Office of the Associate Provost for Graduate Programs. “We anticipate that rate will increase when most International student register during International Student Orientation.”