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Early signs point to no drop in international applicants after Trump

<p>This year has seen the highest number of international applicants in the past five years.</p>

This year has seen the highest number of international applicants in the past five years.

Duke’s international applicant pool continues to grow despite some universities reporting a dip in foreign applicants in response to the Trump administration's immigration policies.

This year, Duke received 5,539 undergraduate applications from foreign citizens, representing a 17 percent increase from last year’s 4,808 international applicants, wrote Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions, in an email to The Chronicle.

“While I don’t have precise numbers for every country, I can say that the increase this year is global, with the exception of Korea, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, where we’ve seen something of a decrease,” Guttentag wrote. “But overall we saw a strong increase in international applications.”

According to the numbers provided by Guttentag, this year had the highest number of international applicants in the past five years. In both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years, Duke experienced slight decreases in foreign applicants, with the numbers fluctuating between 4,606 and 5,539 in the past five years.

The number of international applicants to Duke has also outpaced the growth rate of overall applications, with the University seeing a 20.3 percent increase in international applicants in the past five years, compared to an 8.5 percent increase in the total number of applications in that time frame.

Duke has seemed to outpace many universities nationwide in attracting international applicants.

A recent survey of 250 colleges and universities, released by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, reports that nearly 40 percent of colleges are experiencing overall declines in applications from international students, especially those applying from the Middle East.

The decrease of international enrollment in American colleges can have a great economic impact, as international students bring more than $32 billion a year into the United States' economy. Last year, the number of international students who studied in the U.S. exceeded one million for the first time.

Graduate schools appear to suffer a greater decline in international applicants, with half of them reporting smaller international applicant pools than the previous year, according to the AACR survey.

Duke’s Graduate School, on the other hand, actually reported a small increase in international applicants this year. 

Elizabeth Hutton, associate dean for graduate admissions, wrote in an email that the number of applications to the Graduate School has increased by two percent, although this statistic does not include international applications to any of Duke's professional schools.

“There has been a slowdown in the increase of international applications we received for the past few years,” Hutton wrote, “but decrease in growth began before the current administration took office.”

Hutton explained that because most applications received this year were submitted before Trump’s inauguration, the impact of the Trump administration's immigration policies might not be visible at once.

“It will be interesting to see what the international yields are for this year," she wrote. “And there may be more of an impact on international application numbers next year.”

Hutton added that the admissions office will continue to monitor the situation closely, and that for now there is nothing planned in terms of preventing loss of international applicants in response to Trump’s immigration policies.

Lisa Giragosian, director of the International House, wrote in an email that although IHouse is not involved in international admissions, it is devoted to assisting every international student who has been accepted and decided to come to Duke as well as those who are already at Duke.

Giragosian explained that since Trump's executive order against immigration was issued, IHouse has collaborated with Counseling and Psychological Services, Duke Visa Services and the Center for Muslim Life to sponsor two information sessions discussing issues surrounding the traveling ban, as well as what protections international students, scholars and family members have while in the U.S.

“As a result of the two discussions sessions we’ve held, IHouse and CAPS are also sponsoring an international student support group for the remainder of the semester," Giragosian wrote. "Any international student who is concerned with current climate in the United States can come on Thursdays to connect with their peers."

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