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Trump victory could mean 60% fewer international enrolments, survey finds

In a recent survey of more than 40,000 students in 118 countries, 60% said they would be less likely to choose the US as a study destination if Donald Trump were to be elected president of the country this November.

Students from Mexico showed the most disdain toward a potential Trump election victory. Photo: Gage Skidmore.

A Trump victory could cost the country $4.75bn

The survey, carried out by FPP Edu Media, a study fair organiser with a global student database of 1.2 million prospective students, and Intead, a US-based student recruitment specialist firm, also found that a Trump victory could cost the country $4.75bn in economic contributions from international students.

The figures are based on the NAFSA calculation that each international student contributes $31,000 annually to the US economy. Just under 4% of respondents said they would not be likely to choose the US if Clinton were elected.

Countries represented in the student responses include big US markets including Brazil, India and Mexico.

“You take it down to the individual school that has 10 fewer students, 50 fewer students– that’s a pretty significant economic impact there too”

Ben Waxman, CEO of Intead, said the figures can’t be taken on face value but that an impact will be felt nonetheless.

“I have no illusions that 60% would really not come if Donald Trump were elected president; it won’t be that dramatic,” he told The PIE News. “But even if a sliver of that – if 10% say ‘you know what that’s not where I want to be’, that’s huge.”

If 10% of students from Latin America opted to not go to the US if Trump were elected, that equates to a $200m economic loss. Twenty-five percent fewer students could cost the country $500m.

“And that’s at a macro level,” noted Waxman. “You take it down to the individual school that has 10 fewer students, 50 fewer students– that’s a pretty significant economic impact there too.”

Mexican students showed the highest probability of being put off by a Trump victory. Nearly 80% of the survey respondents said they would be less likely to study in the US if he were elected compared to just 4% who said the same if Clinton won.

“Clearly if Donald Trump is elected president there will be a decline in Mexican students”

“Clearly if Donald Trump is elected president there will be a decline in Mexican students,” Waxman observed.

Compared to South East Asia, disdain for Trump was more widespread in South America, where the percentage of respondents who said they would be less interested in the US hovered around 60%.

In South East Asian countries, meanwhile, percentages of students who said they would eschew the US if Trump won sat around 40%. Students in Thailand were the least likely to be put off, 25%.

In the event of a Clinton victory, just under 4% of all respondents said they would be less inclined to study in the country, equaling a potential loss of $300m.

The country where the most students said they would be most put off by if Clinton won was Malaysia where 8% said they would be less inclined to study in the US.

In the global student recruitment race, Waxman predicted that the US’s loss if Trump because president will be its competitors’ gain.

“If Donald Trump is elected, the UK, Canada, Australia all win big time because if they’re studying abroad the South East Asian students will go to Australia and the Mexicans and the UK students will go to Canada or the UK,” he said.

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