International students

According to recent National Science Board data, there was a 19.2 percent drop in Indian students coming to the U.S. specifically for computer science and engineering graduate programs. At the same time, there was an increase in the number of students coming from China. Above, file photo of Indian students at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad. (Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images)

Recently released data provided by the National Science Board has shown a decline in international students coming to the United States to pursue graduate degrees.

The dip in numbers comes after multiple years of steady increase. The NSB numbers show a 4 percent reduction of students from 2016 to 2017.

Students from India more than quadrupled in that decline with regard to those enrolled in degree programs, with a 17.7 percent drop in students coming to the U.S., going from 117,540 to 96,700.

Additionally, there was a 19.2 percent drop in Indian students coming to the U.S. specifically for computer science and engineering programs. In 2016, there were 95,950 in such programs, and only 77,500 in 2017.

Within all other programs, there was a 10.8 percent decline of Indian students, dropping from 21,590 to 19,260.

Overall, the 4 percent drop saw 840,160 enrolled foreign students in 2016 to 808,640 students enrolled in 2017, the National Science Board showed.

The data of the NSB analyzed the government’s student visa data in a report last month, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report.

“The U.S. government policy, such as the Trump administration’s announced plans to restrict the ability of international students to work after graduation, could accelerate any negative trends,” the report said.

Concerns about staying in the U.S. after graduation have been rising as the Trump administration increases its scrutiny of H-1B visas, which are work permits that allow foreigners to live and work in the U.S. for a period of time, the publication said.

The majority of these visas go to Indian workers each year, and Silicon Valley companies rely on H-1B holders to fill many of their jobs, the report added.

“If you don’t feel like you can work after graduation, you might be less likely to come to the U.S. in the first place,” Stuart Anderson, executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy, which published an analysis of the National Science Board data Feb. 22, said in the Chronicle report.

“The U.S. needs to collectively acknowledge the value of highly-educated foreign nationals and provide for them an environment in which they and their families can thrive, while simultaneously avoiding the abuses that have led to negative public opinion in this area,” Richard Burke, CEO of Envoy, a global immigration management platform for employers, said in a Quartz report.

Though there’s a drastic drop in Indian students coming to the U.S., the report data shows an increase across the board for Chinese students.

The Chronicle also noted that Santa Clara University is "bucking all international trends," citing associate provost for international programs at the university Susan Popko.

“About 60 percent of our (international) students plan to work in the valley after graduation, so I think that is still the draw,” she told the publication.

Jill Welch, deputy executive director of public policy at NAFSA: Association of International Educators, however, feels the trend of dropping numbers will continue if the current administration keeps up its crack-down on high-skilled immigration, the report said.

“U.S. universities and colleges are working hard to maintain their interests,” Welch told the daily. “But Congress should (also) focus on welcoming common sense immigration politics, and not those that send a message that we don’t want immigrants here.”

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