Decline in International Student Numbers at University of Iowa

United States North America International Studies Higher Education News by Erudera News Dec 16, 2023

University of Iowa in fall.jpg

The University of Iowa (UI), a public research university in Iowa, has witnessed a continual decline in the enrollment of international students over the last eight years.

According to the university’s statistics, the number of international students has significantly decreased between 2015 and 2022, from 4,540 to 2,063, respectively.

Currently, there are more than 1,700 international students at the university, making up 5.5 percent of all enrolled students, reports.

Staff at the university have partially attributed the recent decrease to COVID-19, which was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020, local media reports say.

The University of Iowa hosted a significant number of Chinese students in 2015, totaling nearly 2,500. In 2023, the number of Chinese students has sharply decreased to 432, which in other words, is a 83 percent decrease since 2015.

”If you look at China, the country has invested a lot in higher education so they built many colleges and universities, so they no longer needed to outsource higher-ed to countries like the US or the UK or Australia or western Europe,” UI's dean of international programs, Russel Ganim told KCRG.

While China and India continue to lead in sending most international students to the university, Ganim mentioned that India is trying to follow China’s success in building education infrastructure but is struggling to keep up.

In response, the university is trying to recruit more international students from India and the Middle East.

School’s data indicate there were 4,300 international students at the University of Iowa in 2016. This figure dropped to 4,011 in 2017 and 3,665 in 2018.

In 2019, the university had a total of 3,163 international students, which number also fell to 2,509 in 2020 when COVID-19 emerged.

Usually, the main source countries of international students at UI campuses are China, followed by India, South Korea, Iran, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey.

As reported, despite a 56 percent decline in international students since 2015, university officials have expressed optimism that the school is now showing positive trends in international enrollment.

The University of Iowa is the oldest higher education institution in the state, founded in 1847. The institution has been a member of the Association of American Universities since 1909 and the Big Ten Conference since 1899.

As of fall 2023, the total enrollment at the university is 31,452, of which 22,130 are undergraduates, 6,079 are graduates, 1,883 are doctoral students, and 1,410 are in post-graduate training.

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