Fewer International Graduate Students Are Enrolling In Texas Public Universities

International enrollment in masters programs statewide dropped 25 percent in two years.

A graduation ceremony at University of Houston.

Texas public universities enrolled 15,713 international students in masters programs in 2018 — the lowest number in at least five years.

Enrollment dropped 13 percent compared to the previous year and 25 percent since 2016, according to data from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. 

Research by the Council of Graduate Schools, looking at several Texas institutions, also found a drop in applications from international graduate students.

The council’s Hironao Okahana said that decline was partially caused by visa-related concerns.

“There seems to be sort of consensus on some of the concerns we have with the uncertainties revolving around the immigration and visa policies in the United States,” he said. 

According to Okahana, economic factors in students’ home countries could also be playing a role.

Masters applications dropped 17 percent at a sampling of Texas schools.

In 2018, Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a report that found overall international student enrollment in Texas schools dipped 2.2 percent to 86,076.

The data contrasts with a slight increase in the number of Texas institutions that are certified to accept international students.

In Houston, over 120 campuses serve international students. 

One of those institutions is Houston Baptist University, which welcomes the majority of its international students from Nigeria and China.

The university’s Director of International Student Services Shannon Bedo previously told Houston Public Media many of her students fear instability around immigration and come to her with rumors. 

“If they go home to visit their families, they are afraid their visa wouldn’t be renewed so they can come back and finish their studies,” Bedo said.