Is COST Really the Key Factor in the Decline of New Int’l Enrollments in the US?

open-doors-report-on-international-educational-exchange-56After the latest Open Doors report was released, Allan E. Goodman, president & CEO of the Institute of International Education (IIE), did his level best to spin the statistics by pointing to cost as the overriding factor in the decline of new international enrollments rather than the impact of the Trump Effect.  

While the total number was a record high of 1,095,299 in 2018/29, new student enrollments decreased by 0.9% for the third consecutive year.  Keep in mind that the Open Doors survey is conducted in the fall semester of the previous academic year, which means the data are always a year old when they’re released.  Like many other IIE activities, it is funded by the US State Department.  78.2% of the organization’s 2017 revenue was from “government grants.”

By highlighting cost and ignoring the orange elephant in the room, Goodman is being disingenuous, at best, in the spirit of “whose bread I eat, his song I sing” and, continuing with a culinary theme, not biting the hand that feeds you.  As issues go, cost has been one of the “usual suspects” for a very long time.  You can’t have an honest discussion about a decline in new international enrollments without talking about what Trump and his administration have said and done since he came to power.  The price some organizations and their leaders pay to keep the government-funded spigot flowing.  

The title of this Politico article is spot-on:  Growth in international student enrollment stalls under Trump administration.  Here’s a key excerpt:  Some U.S. college leaders have blamed White House rhetoric, visa delays and global tensions for discouraging overseas students. But officials who released the report downplayed those concerns and pointed to growing competition from abroad as well as the sheer price tag of a U.S. degree.  The truth may hurt at times but it’s far preferable to deflection and dissembling.  Another concern expressed by many parents and students in sending countries is epidemic of gun violence.  

OPT as a Puzzling Piece of the Puzzle

One point about Optional Practical Training (OPT) statistics.  While it’s true that if you subtract them from the total, there were 872,000 international students in the US last year not over 1 million, that number only includes HE not secondary and other enrollments.  If you add international secondary students to the mix, the US is still the world’s leading host of international students, for what that’s worth.   

Shalom (שלום), MAA

 

Viet Nam Ranks 60th Out of 163 in 2018 Global Peace Index

vision of humanity

Viet Nam is a peaceful country.  For those of us who live here, I’m stating the obvious.  According to the latest Global Peace Index reportViet Nam ranks 60th out of 163 countries surveyed.  That ranking is in descending order from the “most peaceful” (Iceland) to the “most dangerous” (Syria).  The “state of peace” categories include: very high, high, medium, low, and very low.  This means that Viet Nam falls into the “high” category, as do Germany (#17), the UK (#57) and France (#61).  Australia, Canada, and Japan are classified as “very high” and rank 13th, 6th, and 9th respectively.  

The Global Peace Index, produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), measures global peace using three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarization.  

In the realm of personal safety, there are certain precautions one needs to take in Viet Nam, e.g., don’t walk around Hanoi and HCMC waving an expensive smartphone and always hold your bag away from the street, but violent crimes against people are rare. 

To learn more about the methodology and/or results of this survey, download this PDF report, all 100 pages of it.    

Peace, MAA

“The Dregs of Higher Education Damage Our Immigration System”

dregs2

This organization, whose slogan is Low-immigration, Pro-immigrant, is not one whose work I would normally cite but this is a well-researched report.  It is about an important issue I have been writing for quite some time now, a lone voice in the US higher education accreditation wilderness, so to speak.  There is more than one loophole, by the way.  The bottom line, both figuratively and literally, is that these institutions are gaming the system.  Sometimes, the “free market” is too free.  

The accreditor mentioned, ACICS, was derecognized by the US Department of Education in the waning days of the Obama Administration.  While I hoped for the best, i.e., that ACICS would go the way of the dinosaur, thereby resulting in the loss of institutional accreditation for all of its accredited institutions, I also had the nagging feeling that this ruling would appear on someone’s radar in the Trump Administration.  Why?  Because there’s so much money at $take.

This is an account of how, because of a loophole in the immigration law, dozens of U.S.-based, fourth-rate purveyors of higher education have had multiple negative impacts on the United States while raking in multi-millions of dollars. In the course of this they have:

  • Provided F-1 visas and work permits to tens of thousands of foreign “students”, many of whom are really illegal aliens in disguise;
  • Supplied nominal educational services, if any, to those aliens;
  • Charged those students substantial to outrageous fees;
  • Misled their students on the state of the entities’ academic accreditations;
  • Engaged in a variety of shady financial practices; and, in some cases
  • Used their status as “universities” to hire a suspiciously large numbers of aliens through the H-1B program, including, for example, English professors from Turkey;
  • Provided suspiciously large numbers of multiple-year OPT work permissions to their lightly educated alien alumni; and, in two or three cases,
  • Used their status as IRS-recognized charities to avoid substantial state and federal taxes.

Another problem is most regionally accredited (RA) institutions do not accept credits or credentials (degrees) from nationally accredited schools, for obvious reasons.  (RA is considered to be the gold standard of institutional accreditation.)  This is a fact that many NA schools do not share with prospective students.  

Follow this link to read the report in its entirety.

Peace, MAA

Record Number of B Visas Issued to Vietnamese in 2017

travel state gov

Since information is power, or at least helps in many decision-making processes, I am always looking for trends based on statistics and other data.  In the last (2017) fiscal year (FY) ending on 30 September 2017, a record 100,423 B-1,2 (tourist and business) visas were issued to Vietnamese citizens. 

The number of student visas issued during the same time was 17,275. While the US State Department does not release this information, one can assume – based on anecdotal sources – that the refusal rate is much higher for student visas, more so at the US Consulate in HCMC, which is considered a high fraud post, than at the US Embassy in Hanoi.  Check out this March 2018 blog post for more information about US student visas and Vietnamese students.

What is Adjusted Refusal Rate?  

Before we take a look at some visas stats from FY06 to FY17, here’s a definition of this term.  The visa waiver program nonimmigrant visitor refusal rate is based on the worldwide number of applicants for visitor (B) visas who are nationals of that country.  (B visas are issued for short-term business or pleasure travel to the US.)  The US State Department omits all applications from the calculation except the last one.  For example, if an applicant was refused in May and issued a visa in July of the same year, only the issuance will count.  If an applicant is refused twice, it will only be counted as one refusal.  

In rare cases, an applicant may end the year in a third category, “overcome.”  This happens when a consular officer has the information s/he needs to overcome a refusal
but has not processed the case to completion.  

Thus, the adjusted refusal rate equals: [Refusals minus Overcomes] divided by [Issuances plus Refusals minus Overcomes].

Example:  Determination of B Visa Adjusted Refusal Rate for Country X:
Country X, worldwide, had 305,024 B visa applicants end the fiscal year in the “issuance” status; 20,548 end in “refused” status; and 88 end in “overcome” status.  
Refusals minus Overcomes = 20,548 – 88 = 20,460
Issuances plus Refusals minus Overcomes = 305,024 + 20,548 – 88 = 325,484
20,460 divided by 325,484 = 6.3 percent (Adjusted Refusal Rate)

The complete description, from which the above formula was excerpted, can be downloaded here.  (This file includes links to refusal rate data from FY06 to FY17.)

The Ups and Downs of B Visa Issuance Rates

Last year, the adjusted refusal rate was 24.06%, which means that the issuance rate was 75.94%.  If 100,423 B visas were issued, a total of about 132,000 Vietnamese citizens applied for a B visa from 1 October 2016 to 30 September 2017.  The number of B visa issued jumped from 5,231 in 2006 to over 100,000 in 2017, a nineteen-fold increase in 11 years.  Follow this link to review this and related data.  

The factors that have contributed to substantial increases in B visa issuances include growing ability to afford overseas travel for pleasure and more business ties between Viet Nam and the US, which has produced an ever-expanding pool of applicants.  Another likely reason is that there are simply more qualified applicants.  The highest denial rate was in 2006 and the lowest in 2014. 

FY17: 24.06% (100,423)
FY16: 29.49% (86,180)
FY15: 23.43% (80,936)
FY14: 14.30% (67,140)
FY13: 20.30% (49,247)
FY12: 22.20% (41,159)
FY11: 33.50% (34,280)
FY10: 36.10% (30,811)
FY09: 42.30% (27,304)
FY08: 38.80% (30,426)
FY07: 36.30% (21,398)
FY06: 40.90%  (5,231)

Peace, MAA

 

Vietnamese Students Contribute Over $1 Billion to the US Economy

In 2016/17, Vietnamese students enrolled in US colleges and universities contributed $818 million to the US economy, according to the Open Doors 2017 report.  (Source:  US Department of Commerce)  Keep in mind that those data are from fall 2016 and are limited to higher education.

Let’s update and extrapolate using SEVIS data from December 2017.  This includes both higher education and secondary enrollment.  The latter refers to day and boarding schools.  And let’s use the same figure:  $36,456 per student.  

level-of-study-vn-12-17As of the end of 2017, there were 31,389 Vietnamese studying in the US.  Here’s the breakdown for the aforementioned categories:

  • Higher education:  23383 * $36,456 = $852,450,648 (Note:  This includes both undergraduate, graduate students and recent graduates with OPT status, taking into account that a sizable number of currently enrolled students at both levels receive varying levels of scholarship support.  Remember, this is about economic impact not the total amount being paid by Vietnamese parents for their children’s education and living costs in the US.)  
  • English language training:  2681 * $25,000 = $67,025,000  (This is a guesstimate, perhaps on the conservative side.) 
  • Secondary education:  4129 * $36,456 = $150,526,824  (I used the OD number.  This is a reasonable estimate knowing that many boarding schools are in the 40-55k range with day schools costing much less. (Feel free to question these figures, dear reader.  If I err, it is hopefully on the conservative side.)

Drum roll…  The total economic impact of Vietnamese students on the US economy is…   over $1 billion:  $1,070,002,472.  Now THAT’s significant economic impact.

This amount does not include other categories that involve Vietnamese nationals or their Vietnamese sponsors spending money in the US such as other vocational school (36), flight school (121), primary school (141), and other (898).  

The always popular issue of how much Vietnamese parents are spending on their children’s education and living expenses in the US is another matter.  One can assume that it’s a significant percentage of the total economic impact amount. 

Addendum:  The Vietnamese media routinely use the $3 billion figure when talking about how much parents spend on overseas study for their children.  Unlike fine wine, that number is not aging well with the passage of time.  In fact, the actual number is even higher, given the fact that there are more Vietnamese students than even studying abroad, including over 140,000 in the top five host countries alone:  1) Japan; 2) USA; 3) Australia; 4) China; and 5) the UK. 

MAA

Fiscal Year 2016 Entry/Exit Overstay Report- Department of Homeland Security

DHS logoA colleague recently sent me this report with the above title.  (Thank you, K!)  Yeah, I know; it’s not most people’s idea of a good time but it is interesting to wonks like me who follow these trends in the field (and industry) of international education.  Information is power, right?  OK, if not power, then at least it has the potential to give you more insights and the ability to make more accurate predictions than a crystal ball.

Here’s an excerpt from the report about the purpose of providing this data, at least on an annual basis:  This report analyzes the overstay rates to provide a better understanding of those who overstay and remain in the United States beyond their period of admission with no evidence of an extension to their period of admission or adjustment to another immigration status.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has determined that there were 50,437,278 in-scope nonimmigrant admissions to the United States through air or sea POEs who were expected to depart in FY 2016, which represents the majority of annual nonimmigrant admissions. Of this number, DHS calculated a total overstay rate of 1.47 percent, or 739,478 individuals. In other words, 98.53 percent of the in-scope nonimmigrant visitors departed the United States on time and abided by the terms of their admission

There are two categories: total overstay rate and suspected overstay rate.  Think of the latter as the net version of the former.  As the report points out, its purpose is “to provide a better picture of those overstays who remain in the United States beyond their period of admission and for whom there is no identifiable evidence of a departure, an extension of period of admission, or transition to another immigration status.”  In other words, these are the people who have simply disappeared, presumably to surface later with legal status.  Or not.  

At the end of FY 2016, there were 628,799 Suspected In-Country Overstays. The overall Suspected In-Country Overstay rate for this type of traveler is 1.25% of the expected departures.  When you consider that over 50 million foreigner visitors entered the US in FY16 and that 98.75% of them did indeed return home, that’s not too shabby.

The report is broken down into “nonimmigrants admitted to the United States for business or pleasure, i.e., B1 and B2 visas, and student and exchange visitors (F, M, and J visas).  The average suspected in-country overstay rate for FY 2016, excluding Canada, Mexico, and students, was 1.90%. 

sample visaFor Viet Nam it was 3.40%, or 79% higher than the national average.

Student and Exchange Visitor Visas (F, M, J) Excluding Canada and Mexico

Just to give you an idea of how Viet Nam compares to many other countries with students studying in the US, here is a list of some with much higher overstay rates in descending order.  Asian countries are in navy blue.

  1. Eritrea: 75.21% (117)
  2. Burkina Faso: 46.78% (699)
  3. Chad: 36.77% (68)
  4. Congo (Kinshasa): 36.56% (517)
  5. Djibouti: 33.33% (21)
  6. Libya: 31.85% (1,036)
  7. Congo (Brazzaville): 23.88% (201)
  8. Equatorial Guinea: 20.42% (284)
  9. Côte d’Ivoire: 17.09% (755)
  10. Ethiopia: 21.71% (1,110)
  11. Fiji: 15.84% (101)
  12. Gabon: 23.40% (406)
  13. The Gambia: 29.08% (196)
  14. Benin: 31.25% (400)
  15. Cameroon: 28.68% (889)
  16. North Korea: 27.27% (11)
  17. Togo: 26.14% (176)
  18. Guinea: 26.12% (157)
  19. Central African Republic: 25.93% (127)
  20. Moldova: 25.49% (2,299)
  21. Nepal: 23.50% (2,873)
  22. Nigeria: 22.74% (8,034)
  23. Bhutan: 22.42% (165)
  24. Burundi: 20.96% (167)
  25. Somalia: 20.00% (25)
  26. Cabo Verde: 18.40% (125)
  27. Mali: 17.19% (349)
  28. Iraq: 16.54% (1,300)
  29. Afghanistan: 15.83% (556)
  30. Kyrgyzstan: 14.41% (666)
  31. Malawi: 14.40% (250)
  32. Tajikistan: 13.37% (486)
  33. Liberia: 13.30% (218)
  34. Ukraine: 12.90% (826)
  35. Senegal: 12.59% (657)
  36. Guinea-Bissau: 12.50% (8)
  37. Serbia: 12.46% (4,800)
  38. Kenya: 12.28% (2,326)
  39. Niger: 12.07% (174)
  40. Papua New Guinea: 12.03% (158)
  41. Tonga: 11.29% (176)
  42. Bangladesh: 11.03% (3,237)
  43. Macedonia: 10.98% (1,658)
  44. Uganda: 10.65% (3,273)
  45. Syria: 10.35% (599)
  46. Sudan: 10.30% (304)
  47. Rwanda: 9.73% (997)
  48. Haiti: 9.67% (982)
  49. Uzbekistan: 9.48% (1,181)
  50. Mongolia: 9.44% (2,399)
  51. Zambia: 9.42% (414)
  52. Mauritania: 9.40% (117)
  53. Timor-Leste: 9.38% (32)
  54. Turkmenistan: 9.16% (371)
  55. Maldives: 8.11% (74)
  56. Sri Lanka: 8.74% (1,774)
  57. Burma (Myanmar):  8.59% (1,036)
  58. Namibia: 8.63% (139)
  59. Albania: 8.34% (779)
  60. Viet Nam: 8.15% (14,878)

Several points stand out. 

  1. While Viet Nam is at the lower end of the spectrum among these 60 countries in terms of percentage, it has one of the highest suspected in-country overstay rates in Asia.  In terms of numbers, 1,213 young Vietnamese were out-of-status last year.  Compare that to China, which ranks first in the number of students it sends to the US with 360,334 last year.  The suspected in-country overstay rate was only 2.09%.  The days of the brain drain are clearly over.  It’s obvious that quite a few young Vietnamese are using the F-1 (in most cases) as a backdoor means of emigration.  (This assertion is also based on anecdotal evidence.)
  2. Many of these countries have relatively few students in the US, i.e., fewer than 500.
  3. Many of the countries are war-torn and/or desperately poor, due to war and other factors.

Keep in mind that this percentage is higher in some parts of Viet Nam than others, i.e., those with people who have relatives in the US, mostly in the former Republic of Viet Nam (South Vietnam).  These data are reported to the US Mission, the Consulate in HCMC, in particular, and could have an impact on consular officers’ decisions for applicants coming from areas with a higher overstay rate.

Note:  Whenever I deal with statistics, I’m often reminded of the following quote, which was popularized by Mark Twain, who attributed it to the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  Not included in the above statistics are international students who remain in the country legally, e.g., through marriage or a work (H1-B) visa.  Thus, neither country really knows how many young Vietnamese come home after completing their studies and/or an Optional Practical Training (OPT) work experience on a F-1 visa.  Another unknown variable is the number of graduates to move to a third country for study or work.    

MAA

 

The Wave Continues to Build: Vietnamese Students in the USA

vn 12-17
Source:  SEVIS (DHS)

According to the latest Mapping SEVIS by the Numbers update from last month, there are currently 31,389 Vietnamese students in the US at all levels of the education system.  (2.59% of all international students in the US are from Viet Nam.)  

Viet Nam remains in 5th place sandwiched between Saudi Arabia, which experienced the sharpest decline among the top 10 sending countries, and Canada, which saw a small increase from May 2017.  

Country          May 2017       December 2017         
 
China                362,370          382.908                      
India                 206,708          212,288                      
S. Korea            71,206            68,128                        
Saudi Arabia   55,810            49,298                        
Viet Nam         30,279            31,389                        
Canada             29,536            30,034                        
Japan                24,837            24,809                        
Taiwan             22,803            24,110                        
Brazil                21,768            23,901                        
Mexico              16,207            16,212                        

Here are two changes from the end of the 2016/17 academic year to now that likely signal trends:

1)  A decrease in the percentage of Vietnamese students enrolled in “language training” from 10.7% to 8.5%.   

2)  An increase in the percentage of Vietnamese undergraduates enrolled in four-year schools from 29.7% to 31.8%.  (To put this in perspective, 90% of all Vietnamese undergrads in the US were enrolled in a community college in 2009/10.)  

level of study vn 12-17
Source:  SEVIS (DHS)

The top 10 host states remained the same.  The only change is that Pennsylvania displaced Florida.  Massachusetts, which remained in 4th place, saw the most significant increase. 

student population by state 12-17
Source:  SEVIS (DHS)
  1. CA: 6175
  2. TX: 5232
  3. WA: 2548
  4. MA: 1815
  5. NY: 1396
  6. PA: 1276
  7. FL: 1223
  8. IL: 967
  9. VA: 889
  10. GA: 712

While there are Vietnamese students in all 50 states, 71%, rounded up, are studying in these 10 states, a statistically insignificant decrease from May 2017.  This, of course, means that 29% are in the remaining 40 states and Puerto Rico, which has one (1). 

To drill down a bit deeper, 44.45% are in California, Texas, and Washington state.  I discuss some of the reasons for this in a September 2017 article I wrote for VNExpress International.  (The bluer the state, the more Vietnamese students are studying there.)

Stay tuned for a post in which I analyze this information in light of other trends in what I refer to as the perfect storm of converging factors that include the recent spike in the number of Vietnamese students studying in Canada, increasing competition within and outside of the US, and various sociopolitical factors.

MAA