All University of Missouri campuses see drop in international students
COLUMBIA - International student applications are declining at all four University of Missouri system campuses amid uncertainty about US immigration.
The St. Louis, Rolla, Kansas City and Columbia campuses reported international student application declines from last year range from 10 to 50 percent, according to The Associated Press.
MU Spokesperson Christian Basi with the Columbia campus refused an interview but sent KOMU 8 News an email outlining international student information, without giving specific numbers about applications.
“Enrollment/applications figures for international students can be difficult to pin down due to the nature of the process,” Basi said.
He attributed the decreased interest among international students to the political climate and “the recent executive orders restricting U.S. entry from residents of certain countries.”
He said safety is also a contributing factor.
“Based on incidents that have happened around the country, many prospective students and their families have said that they do not feel safe coming to the United States,” Basi said.
The University of Missouri - Columbia’s total enrollment is 33,266 and its international enrollment is 2,507, making up about 7.5 percent of the student body.
David Sowers, an international minister with Mizzou’s Christian Campus House, said he thinks the drop in international students has to do with the protests on MU’s campus in 2015.
“I think that there were those who heard about this overseas, and I think that they became concerned, and in some cases, probably unduly so about the overall impact on the university,” Sowers said.
Sowers works with MU international students through a conversation partner program that helps teach them English. He said the drop in applications has not affected his ministry so far but is unsure about the future.
“I’ve wondered if, down the road, with the drop off in enrollment that’s occurring now, if we’re going to see some affects in the future,” he said. “I just don’t know.”
Basi said MU’s international recruiters are working to attract more students.
“Currently, our international recruiters are focusing on yield activities, but at this time, we expect to see a decrease in international students this coming fall,” he said.
Sowers agrees a drop in international student enrollment will probably continue for now.
“I would guess that probably there’s going to continue to be a trend like that for a little while,” he said. “But hopefully, that will turn around in the near future.”
But, Sowers said as long as MU handles the application drop in a responsible way, he thinks it will end up creating a positive view of the university.
“I think that the confidence level will grow and recover to what it was before,” he said.