New Visa Rules Cut Back on Foreign Students Lower Out-Of- Country Enrollment Means Less Tuition for Almost All Universities

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Byline: Maria Baran Medill News Service

Research universities here and nationwide are reporting a decline in enrollment of foreign students, according to three new surveys. Some blame delays in processing U.S. visas as well as increased competition from universities abroad.

Christopher Viers, associate dean and director of international services at Indiana University, cited a heightening of post-Sept. 11 security levels, the increasing cost of U.S. education and "a reflection of better opportunities for students to remain in their homeland." He also noted advances in graduate programs in other countries, particularly in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

A survey of more than 2,700 U.S. universities and colleges showed foreign enrollment had dropped by 2.4 percent in 2003-2004, according to the annual Open Doors report released by the Institute of International Education, a New York-based not-for-profit educational exchange program. That's the first national decline in enrollment of foreign students since 1971.

"We're hoping the enrollment decline this year is a blip, rather than a trend," Viers said.

While national numbers for this year aren't yet available, a check with several Midwest universities found all down.

The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks led to tightening of U.S. visa regulations. Now, each person requesting a visa must have a personal interview by U.S. embassy personnel and undergo security clearance checks that can take months, especially for those studying in scientific and technical fields.

Perhaps as a result, the decline in enrollment of international students at the graduate level is higher, according Michael Brzezinski, director of Purdue University's International Students and Scholars office. The school's 2,978 international graduate students make up more than 40 percent of the program's enrollment. …