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Drop in students who come to the US to study could affect higher education and jobs

The US has experienced a record decline in the number of international students. How long will the trend continue? An international education scholar weighs in.



Declines in the enrollment of international students span all fields of study. Vladimir Vladimirov/E+ via Getty Images

Driven largely by the global pandemic, the number of international students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities fell by 15% – or 161,401 students – from 2019 to 2020. However, early data for 2021 indicate the number might bounce back soon. This is according to new data from the Institute of International Education and the U.S. State Department.

As a university administrator who specializes in international higher education, I see six important takeaways to consider.

1. A record decrease

While a drop was expected due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic, which included international travel restrictions and suspension of U.S. visa services, the number of international students in the U.S. has actually been declining since 2016.

The decrease in 2020, however, is the largest on record based on data dating back to 1948.

Enrollments are down across all fields of study at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, which fell by 14.2% and 12.1%, respectively. Meanwhile, more than half of all international students come from just two countries: China and India. About 1 in 3 international students in the U.S. are from China, and about 1 in 5 are from India. For context, the third-most represented nation is South Korea, which accounts for about 1 out of every 25 international students in the U.S.

2. A rebound is evident, but it may not last

While the overall number of international students dropped in fall 2020, a preliminary snapshot points to a 68% increase in the number of students beginning their studies in fall 2021 compared with a year earlier. This increase, which cannot be confirmed until a more comprehensive census is released in 2022, suggests a possible rebound is occurring.

Nonetheless, it is important to understand that the rebound reflected in these data undoubtedly includes some of the nearly 40,000 international students who were admitted for fall 2020 but had to defer their studies due to the pandemic.

Given that most admission offers may be deferred for only one year, it is reasonable to assume that fall 2020 deferrals helped fuel fall 2021 gains. So any increase in 2021 could be a temporary spike and not necessarily a sign that international student enrollments will reverse their downward trend.

3. Other nations’ losses may be the US’ gains

Another factor fueling the reported surge in new international enrollments within the U.S. for fall 2021 is that the U.S. experienced less competition from abroad.

In addition to a delayed vaccine rollout across countries in Europe, some nations have been entirely off-limits since the start of the pandemic. For instance, China and Australia, the world’s fourth- and fifth-most popular study destinations, respectively, have both remained closed to international students since the start of the pandemic, causing students who would otherwise have traveled to these countries to switch destinations in pursuit of in-person learning.

In August 2021, Australia reported more than 200,000 fewer international students than a year earlier, before the pandemic began. While Australia will allow international students to return starting on Dec. 1, 2021, it remains uncertain when China might reopen its borders to students.

4. Less funding for STEM graduate programs

Many U.S. universities would find it difficult to maintain graduate programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, without international students. This is made clear by a 2021 report showing that international students constitute the majority of full-time graduate students in many STEM fields. For example, at the graduate level, international students are 82% of all petroleum engineering students, 74% of all electrical engineering students and 72% of all computer and information sciences students.

While some might think these figures mean U.S. students are being crowded out, research reveals that international student enrollment actually helps increase U.S. enrollment. Consider that international students pay higher tuition than their U.S. classmates, which helps pay for enrolling more American students.

5. Fewer US jobs

Beyond usually paying a higher tuition, international students spend money off campus as well. In fact, they spend on just about everything that U.S. students do, from apartments and transportation to insurance and technology. In much of the country, local and state sales taxes are paid on top of these purchases.

These dollars add up to the point that for every three international students, one U.S. job is created or supported by their spending. The 2020 enrollment drop-off means 109,679, or 26.4%, fewer U.S. jobs were supported by international students in 2020 than in 2019.

6. Fewer highly skilled workers

International students who work internships or get practical training also serve as a valuable pool of talent for U.S. employers struggling to hire workers in highly skilled areas, such as science and engineering.

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According to the U.S. Chambers of Commerce, the shortage of highly skilled workers is a key factor holding back economic recovery from the effects of the pandemic. A healthy talent pool in the U.S. also has implications for global competitiveness, as other nations, such as China and Russia, aim to increase their scientific and technological capabilities.

National concern

Economics aside, international students make many other valuable contributions to the U.S. These include increasing cultural diversity on college campuses, enhancing learning in the classroom and promoting positive diplomatic relations with other countries. While the U.S. remains the world’s top choice for international students, it continues to lose ground to other nations vying to attract foreign talent.

Consider that from 2000 to 2020 the U.S. share of the world’s international students fell from 28% to 20%. How could this be? Unlike the next four most popular destinations, the United Kingdom, Canada, China and Australia, the U.S. lacks a national strategy for recruiting and retaining international students.

Earlier in 2021, the Biden-Harris administration signaled that may be changing. Specifically, the U.S. secretaries of education and state released a Joint Statement on Principles in Support of International Education. In that statement, they committed to a number of actions, such as implementing new policies and procedures aimed at ensuring the U.S. remains the top destination for global talent.

More recently, several major U.S. higher education associations called for a national strategy to reverse the international enrollment decline.

While it is still too early to predict if a unified strategy would actually reverse international student enrollment declines at U.S. colleges and universities, the idea of a coordinated national approach could help position the U.S. to compete for the world’s best and brightest minds.

David L. Di Maria does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Peppercomm Named Public Relations Agency of Record for AgriFORCE

Peppercomm Named Public Relations Agency of Record for AgriFORCE
PR Newswire
NEW YORK, Aug. 18, 2022

AgTech innovator taps integrated communications and marketing agency to drive global growth and brand awareness
NEW YORK, Aug. 18, 2022 /PRNewswire…



Peppercomm Named Public Relations Agency of Record for AgriFORCE

PR Newswire

AgTech innovator taps integrated communications and marketing agency to drive global growth and brand awareness

NEW YORK, Aug. 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Peppercomm, award-winning, strategic and integrated communications and marketing agency, today announced it has been named global PR agency of record for AgriFORCE Growing Systems Ltd. (NASDAQ: AGRI; AGRIW), an AgTech company dedicated to advancing sustainable cultivation and crop processing to yield more nutritious food with limited environmental impact. AgriFORCE selected Peppercomm following a competitive evaluation of several firms.

Headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, AgriFORCE is poised to disrupt the agriculture industry by building a portfolio of proprietary AgTech solutions to help growers achieve higher quality and more sustainably produced crops, alongside branded products and ingredients that unlock superior nutrition for consumers. With an agreement to acquire Delphy Group BV and a binding LOI to acquire Deroose Plants NV recently announced, the company's strategic and holistic approach aims to address key challenges facing the agriculture industry.

"We're pleased to work with a company that can have a real impact on our food and our planet," said Steve Cody, CEO of Peppercomm. "The global pandemic and Russian invasion of Ukraine have significantly affected the food supply chain and accelerated the need for solutions to address these extraordinary challenges. AgriFORCE's IP and expertise are coming to the marketplace at just the right time."

Peppercomm will help AgriFORCE build global brand awareness through an integrated approach that includes strategic counsel, messaging development, thought leadership, earned media and social media, and digital advertising. 

"AgriFORCE is excited to partner with Peppercomm as our agency of record," shared Mauro Pennella, President of AgriFORCE Brands and CMO of AgriFORCE Growing Systems. "Peppercomm has strong experience across agriculture, agtech, and consumer brands, including public companies with multinational operations. We are confident that their tight-knit and senior team, with existing industry and media relationships, can bring to life the vision and purpose of AgriFORCE in the months ahead."

About Peppercomm
Peppercomm is an award-winning strategic, integrated communications and marketing agency headquartered in New York City with offices in San Francisco and London. The firm, which was recently acquired by Ruder Finn, combines 27 award-winning years of expertise serving blue chip and breakout clients with forward-thinking new service offerings and the freshness of a start-up. This unique mix of experience and energy enables the firm to attract and empower teams with a creative edge, drive, and passion for promoting, protecting, and connecting clients in a fast-changing marketplace. Founded in 1995, Peppercomm has received numerous accolades, including Crain's Best Places to Work in NYC 2021, PRWeek's Best Places to Work 2020, the Agency Elite 100, SABRE Award (Integrated Campaign), PRSA Big Apple (2020, 2019 Winner Integrated Campaign), Platinum PR Awards (Media Relations), PRNews Digital Awards (CSR), the Bulldog PR Awards (Media Relations) and PR Daily's Top Agencies of 2022 among others. For more information visit

About AgriFORCE
AgriFORCE Growing Systems Ltd. (NASDAQ: AGRI; AGRIW) is an AgTech company focused on the development and acquisition of crop production know-how and intellectual property augmented by advanced AgTech facilities and solutions. Looking to serve the global market, the Company's current focus is on North America, Europe, and Asia. The AgriFORCE vision is to be a leader in delivering plant-based foods and products through advanced and sustainable AgTech solution platforms that make positive change in the world—from seed to table. The AgriFORCE goal: Clean. Green. Better. Additional information about AgriFORCE is available at:

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PR Newswire
NEW YORK, Aug. 18, 2022

66% of consumers are more mindful of spending on groceries85% of …




PR Newswire

  • 66% of consumers are more mindful of spending on groceries
  • 85% of Americans are concerned or very concerned about inflation
  • 58%  believe the cost of living will be more expensive in the coming year
  • 46% of consumers say they're buying fewer non-essentials
  • 43% seek out sales and promotions to afford their favorite brands 

NEW YORK, Aug. 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearly half of Americans (45%) feel like they can't afford their previous lifestyle and 76% of American consumers say their family has changed how they buy food with prices on the rise. In addition, two-thirds (66%) are more mindful of how they are spending their money. These findings are part of a new consumer sentiment survey on inflation commissioned by NCSolutions (NCS), the leading company for improving advertising effectiveness.

Eighty-five percent of Americans are very concerned or extremely concerned about inflation and almost unanimously (93%) they said we're in an inflationary time. On the same economic theme, over half (57%) are concerned about the country's financial situation, while 47% say they're concerned about their family's financial situation. Eight out of 10 or 83% of Americans expect the cost of living will become somewhat more or much more expensive in the coming year. Sixty-five percent of Americans agree with the statement 'my income has not increased as fast at the cost of food, beverage and personal care products.'

"For the second time in a little over two years, consumers are pivoting to new purchasing behaviors at the grocery store," commented Alan Miles, CEO, NCSolutions. "Since the start of the pandemic, they've been swapping their favorite brands for what's available. Today, though, value is the centerpiece more often than availability, consumers are selecting brands and products to stretch their budgets as far as possible. CPG brands that meet customers where they are both in this inflationary moment and as prices ease have the best shot at keeping them for the long-term."

NCSolutions' proprietary purchase data, which reflects the buying trends of consumers for CPG products, shows an almost 13% price increase on average. In a six-year price trend analysis, we see that price increases in 2022 are pacing at an accelerated rate compared to other years.  The survey findings bear this out with 58% of consumers believing the cost of living will be much more expensive in the coming year and 71% feeling the U.S. economy is declining. 

Six-year Inflation Trend


Percentage Inflation Change Year-Over-Year

On a consumer packaged goods category level, there are wide variations in percentage increases.

Compared to one year ago, six in 10 Americans believe CPG product packaging has gotten smaller but costs the same. Consumers still feel the strain of supply chain issues as 69% say there are fewer items of the same product on the shelves. Thirty-six percent of Americans said there is less variety of  brands available on the shelf today compared with one year ago.

Over half (53%) of American consumers say they find basic food staples more expensive; 40% believe a recession will occur in 2023. For almost half of consumers (46%), this means buying fewer non-essential items on the food aisle, or for 43%, it means buying only the essentials.  Seventy-one percent of Americans say the increased price of groceries is straining their savings. For other American consumers, increased prices on the grocery aisle mean seeking out less expensive brands (45%).  Other ways consumers are coping with the increased price of groceries are loading up the pantry (27%) or freezer (26%) or shopping closer to home (24%).

When it comes to consumers' preferred brands, they have to make tough choices. Sixty percent of consumers seek less expensive alternatives when their favorite brands reach a price beyond their budget. Forty-six percent of consumers plan to go without their favorite brands, and 43% of consumers look for sales to offset the cost. In the survey, respondents could select multiple ways they react.

June 2021 vs. June 2022: Inflation Increases by category

"Though it may be tempting to pull back on advertising, a more effective strategy is to recognize and respond to consumer 'stress-flation.' Brands have an opportunity now to build loyalty and attract new customers with empathetic marketing," said Leslie Wood, Chief Research Officer, NCSolutions. "We're heading into a period of heavy CPG purchasing moments, such as back to school and the approaching holidays. Compelling, well-targeted advertising is a proven strategy for increasing brand equity and sales both in the short- and long-term."

Respondents were asked, "When shopping for groceries, which products are most important." The majority ranked:

  1. Affordable products that provide a clear value for my money 
  2. Finding food products that feed their families for several meals
  3. Products they know their families will enjoy eating

ABOUT THE CONSUMER SURVEY: The online survey of 2,141 respondents was fielded from June 17- 20, 2022.  Responses presented in this survey were weighted by location, education, income and other demographics to be representative of the overall population. To read more about the findings, you can download the full report

NCSolutions makes advertising work better. Our unrivaled data resources powered by leading providers combine with scientific rigor and leading-edge technology to empower the CPG ecosystem to create and deliver more effective advertising. With NCS's proven approach, brands achieve continuous optimization everywhere ads appear through purchase-based audience targeting and sales measurement solutions that have impacted billions in media spend for our customers. NCS is a joint venture company with  Nielsen as the majority owner. 

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Legal Services Sourcing and Procurement Market by 2025| COVID-19 Impact & Recovery Analysis | SpendEdge

Legal Services Sourcing and Procurement Market by 2025| COVID-19 Impact & Recovery Analysis | SpendEdge
PR Newswire
NEW YORK, Aug. 18, 2022

NEW YORK, Aug. 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The “Legal Services Market” report has been added to SpendEdge’s…



Legal Services Sourcing and Procurement Market by 2025| COVID-19 Impact & Recovery Analysis | SpendEdge

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Aug. 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The "Legal Services Market" report has been added to SpendEdge's library which is trusted by more than 100 CPOs and 500 category managers who use our insights daily.

The Legal Services market is poised to grow by USD 187.38 Billion, progressing at a CAGR of almost 3.64% during the forecast period

Key Highlights Offered in the Report:

  • Information on how to identify strategic and tactical negotiation levels that will help achieve the best prices.
  • Gain information on relevant pricing levels, and a detailed explanation of the pros and cons of prevalent pricing models.
  • Methods to help engage with the right suppliers and discover KPIs to evaluate incumbent suppliers.

Fetch actionable market insights on the post-COVID-19 impact on each product and service segment.

Some of the Top Legal Services suppliers listed in this report:

This Legal Services procurement intelligence report has enlisted the top suppliers and their cost structures, SLA terms, best selection criteria, and negotiation strategies.

  • Latham and Watkins
  • Allen and Overy
  • Hogan Lovells

Fetch actionable market insights on the post-COVID-19 impact on each product and service segment:

Top Selling Report:

  1. Asset Recovery Services - Forecast and AnalysisThe asset recovery services will grow at a CAGR of 9.49% during 2021-2025. Asia Asset Recovery Pte Ltd., TES-Amm Singapore Pte Ltd., and Iron Mountain Inc. are among the prominent suppliers in the asset recovery services market. Click the above link to download the free sample of this report.
  2. Vulnerability Management Sourcing and Procurement ReportVulnerability Management Procurement Market, prices will increase by 4%-6% during the forecast period and suppliers will have moderate bargaining power in this market. Click the above link to download the free sample of this report.
  3. Business Process Outsourcing Services- Sourcing and Procurement Intelligence ReportThis report offers key advisory and intelligence to help buyers identify and shortlist the most suitable suppliers for their Legal Services. Click the above link to download the free sample of this report.

To access the definite purchasing guide on the Legal Services that answers all your key questions on price trends and analysis:

  • Am I paying/getting the right prices? Is my Legal Services TCO (total cost of ownership) favorable?
  • How is the price forecast expected to change? What is driving the current and future price changes?
  • Which pricing models offer the most rewarding opportunities?

Register for a free trial today and gain instant access to 1,200+ market research reports.
SpendEdge's SUBSCRIPTION platform

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Market Insights
  • Category Pricing Insights
  • Cost-saving Opportunities
  • Best Practices
  • Category Ecosystem
  • Category Management Strategy
  • Category Management Enablers
  • Suppliers Selection
  • Suppliers under Coverage
  • US Market Insights
  • Category scope
  • Appendix

About SpendEdge:

SpendEdge shares your passion for driving sourcing and procurement excellence. We are the preferred procurement market intelligence partner for 120+ Fortune 500 firms and other leading companies across numerous industries. Our strength lies in delivering robust, real-time procurement market intelligence reports and solutions.


Anirban Choudhury
Marketing Manager
Ph No:
+1 (872) 206-9340

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