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Colleges are preparing for drop in international students this fall: Report

Some campuses are offering a deferment or online classes.

While colleges across the country are still on the fence about opening their campuses to students, most are preparing for a drop in the number of international students, according to a new study.

The Institute of International Education (IIE), which tracks data on college students, on Thursday released the results of a survey it conducted with 599 colleges and universities in all 50 states about their plans for the summer and fall semesters in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mirka Martel, the report's author, noted that 74% of respondents said they don't know if they will continue their study abroad programs in the fall but 70% said they anticipate that at least some international students won't able to come to their campus for that semester.

"Our analysis indicates that these institutions anticipate that approximately 16% of their international student body will not be able to come to campus in‐person in fall 2020," Martel said during a conference call with reporters.

The surveyed campuses taught 519,000 international students during the 2018-2019 academic year, which was approximately 47% of the U.S.'s total international student population, according to IIE. Martel noted that because of the pandemic, academic institutions had to scale back their recruitment efforts abroad.

Roughly 78% of the schools switched to virtual recruitment methods, such as online information sessions and phone calls with prospective students, and many took actions to waive certain costs, such as application fees, the report said. Martel said college administrators are concerned about their budgets as the number of international students dwindles.

"They are thinking about internationalization moving forward and how international education may change and evolve post COVID‐19," she said.

The report added that the schools are turning to alternative options to help students who are still interested in attending their classes. About three-quarters of the respondents said they would offer students the option of deferring their enrollment to the fall of 2021.

Colleges are still figuring out how many classes will be taught online and what offerings will be available in the fall.

"As a result, 52% of reported institutions indicate that they plan to offer students online enrollment in the fall, whereas 42% indicate that they will offer online instruction until the student can come to campus in‐person," the report said.

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