KATHMANDU:  There has been a sharp decline in the number of students going to the United States for higher studies in recent months, particularly after Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president on January 20.

Records at the Ministry of Education show just around 200 students have obtained No Objection Certificates (NOCs) for the US since January third week.

The US has always been the third most favoured destination among Nepali students after Japan and Australia.

Out of 32,482 students who obtained NOCs from the MoE in the last fiscal year, 4,726 wanted to go to the US.

If NOC data for the last one month is taken into consideration, the US is not even among the top 15 destination countries for Nepali students for further studies.

Out of 7,292 NOCs issued in the month of Falgun (mid-Feb to mid-March), Japan topped the list with 3,614 followed by Australia with 2,069. Only 21 acquired NOCs for the US in that period, making it the 16th preferred destination for Nepali students.

“There has been a sharp decline in number of students aspiring to go to the US for further studies,” said Prakash Pandey, chairperson of Education Consultancy Association of Nepal.

Trump’s stringent policy against immigrants could have been the major deterrent, but Pandey said genuine Nepali students need not worry about travelling to the US for studies.

According to a March 16 report of the New York Times, US universities were getting fewer international applications.

Citing a survey of 250 colleges and universities by American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), the Times said nearly 40 percent of colleges “are reporting overall declines in applications from international students”. “Many officials cited worries among prospective students about Trump administration immigration policies,” the Times said in its report.

In February, six higher education groups in the US—AACRAO, the Institute of International Education, NAFSA, the Council of Graduate Schools, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), and NACAC’s international subgroup, International ACAC—had collaborated on a cross-member survey of US colleges.

The report showed that there was a 15 percent decrease in the number of Indian applicants for graduate courses and a 26 per cent decrease in applications for undergraduate courses since last year. The report also noted that there was a 25 per cent drop of applications for undergraduate courses and a 32 per cent drop for graduate courses from China. Indian and Chinese students make up 47 per cent of the international students in the US. There are over half a million Chinese and Indian university students in the US.

According to the report, one of the most commonly cited concerns from Nepal, India and China was a perception that visa rejection rates are increasing at US diplomatic posts in these countries. There was also a perception that the US is now less welcoming to foreign visitors and there were worries that further travel restrictions could be introduced in the future, the report said.

Pandey agreed there is a perception among Nepali students that visa rejection rates are higher, which may have prompted them to choose other countries than the US as their study destination.

–  By Binod Ghimire for TKP

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