Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Southern Utah University has seen a decrease in international students on campus, partly because of the United States government restrictions.
“This year enrollment of new international students could hit its lowest and enrollment is projected to decline 63% to 98% from the 2018-19 level,” said Jame Orton, director of International Student and Scholar Services at SUU.
Almost 1.1 million students come to the U.S. from other countries for college or practical training programs, according to the Institute for International Education.
Now U.S. universities, including SUU, are losing hundreds of thousands of international students this year.
According to the International Affairs office at SUU, there’s been a 40% decline of new incoming international students on campus this fall semester due to COVID-19. SUU usually hosts students from over 63 different countries and almost 800 international students attend campus every year.
“We usually get 120 to 150 international students each semester but we only had 25 so far,” said Orton.
Many of the students come from countries that have better control of their coronavirus outbreaks than the U.S. has, but the U.S. government has imposed many restrictions on who is allowed to enter the country.
The majority of international students at SUU come from China and the directors of the International Affairs office noticed that less Chinese students have applied for U.S. colleges.
A large contributing factor to this is that the U.S. government isn’t allowing many Chinese students to enter the country.
Li Yin, a student at SUU from China studying political science, was hoping to return this semester in order to finish her studies. However, she couldn’t return to the U.S. even if she had a student visa due to restrictions by the U.S. government.
SUU offered her a completely online program for the fall semester but she refused.
“The class interactions might not be a big issue for students who study math or computer science,” Li said. “But for law students, class participation is everything.”
She was also worried about the time zones with a 15 hour difference between China and Utah, which could have meant attending lectures between dawn and midnight.