In light of actions and rhetoric by the current administration, colleges around the U.S. are experiencing uncertainty and concern over drops in international student applications. However, it appears so far that Knox is bucking that trend.
In a recent survey of 250 colleges and universities, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers reported that nearly 40 percent of colleges are experiencing declines in applications from international students. According to the report, most international students and their families highlighted issues ranging from issues with student visa denials, perceptions of a less welcoming climate and expansions of President Trump’s travel ban.
Despite these numbers and concerns voiced in the survey, Knox has witnessed an increase in international student applications for the 2017-18 school year. According to Vice President for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions Paul Steenis, Knox received 632 international student applications compared to 624 the previous year, and has admitted 290 of those students, an increase from the 250 admitted last year.
Although there was an increase in international students at Knox, Steenis mentioned that those involved in higher education are still concerned about the rhetoric coming from Washington, such as immigration policies banning students and other individuals from certain countries.
“There’s a real concern among educators about whether or not, as a result of the decisions made by the federal government and the White House, the United States is being viewed as more hostile to international students,” Steenis said. “There’s also a concern about the environment in general, and sometimes it comes down to safety. It’s about whether or not international students coming into the United States will be safe and free of harassment and free of intimidation.”
Steenis also speculated that there are a few possible reasons why Knox has not been affected by drop in applications. He pointed towards Knox’s reputation for committing to cultural diversity and the welcoming student body as potential factors that make the college more attractive to international students.
“I think our campus community in general is very interested in cultural diversity and learning from people who are not like us. It’s a much more inclusive, much more open [and a] much more inviting campus community than so many other colleges and universities,” Steenis said.
Freshman Cara Chang, an international student from Taiwan, can attest to Knox’s diverse campus as a possible reason why international students may find the college more attractive than others.
“Knox is a lot more liberal than most colleges in the United States. That’s one of the first things that comes up when you research Knox,” Chang said. She also mentioned that many international students study in other countries because the tuition is often more affordable.
“Knox is so generous with scholarships and financial aid, and that’s part of the reasons why I came. I know that’s why so many people chose Knox over another school that’s more famous,” Chang said. “Money helps [and] the liberal environment helps. That’s probably why, if there’s a drop, it’s not happening at Knox.”