After Years of Growth, International Student Enrollment Leveled Off, Then Dropped

From 2015-16 to 2018-19


New enrollment of international students at U.S. universities declined by more than 10% between the 2015-16 and 2018-2019 academic years.
From 2019 to 2020


During the COVID-19 pandemic, the total number of international students studying at U.S. universities, in person or virtually, decreased by an additional 16% from fall 2019 to fall 2020, while enrollments of new international students decreased by 43 percent.

Politics, increased competition from other countries and regulatory changes fueled the decline. COVID-19, concerns about safety and gun violence, and a perceived unwelcoming stance toward international students and immigrants further exacerbated the decline.

Our goal: Continued and steady growth

Continued and steady growth is our goal, with a diverse mix of international students on campus in Springfield and abroad.

Adapting to new models of international education, we will place a renewed emphasis on creating customized cohort programs, transfer pathways, dual degree and accelerated master’s degree programs in a variety of academic disciplines. This effort will build on our existing network of international partner universities – not necessarily more partners, but deeper engagement with our most active and reliable partners.

Global engagement can occur in U.S. classrooms, abroad or online, so we will continue to blend virtual and in-person teaching and learning to expand international education opportunities. We will encourage faculty research and service to include a global perspective and involve international partners.