Nine US universities have launched a new scholarship programme for international students as new figures show that institutions are continuing to see a decline in the number of foreign applications.
The institutions will each offer two annual, renewable scholarships for overseas undergraduates from autumn 2019 that will cover at least 50 per cent of recipients’ tuition fees.
The initiative was introduced as part of Temple University’s #YouAreWelcomeHere social media campaign, which was launched in November 2016 to help overseas students feel welcome in the US following Donald Trump’s election as US president.
The Pennsylvania-based institution said that scholarships would be available for international students who are “committed” to furthering the campaign “through intercultural exchange that bridges divides at their future campuses and beyond”.
Applicants will be required to write an essay or produce a video about their ideas for advancing intercultural learning and understanding.
The eight other participating institutions are: Concordia College at Moorhead, Eastern Michigan University, James Madison University, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Purdue University Northwest, Seattle University, Shoreline Community College and Western New England University.
Jessica Sandberg, director of international admissions at Temple University, said that the campaign has “built new bridges of goodwill between US higher education and students worldwide” and that the scholarship was “our way of meeting students halfway across that bridge”.
“It advances the campaign through meaningful action, adding concrete support for international students to our already well-received message and providing those students with a way to expand the conversation,” she said.
She added that she hopes more universities will join the scheme in the coming months.
The programme was unveiled as new research from World Education Services, a non-profit organisation that provides credential evaluations for prospective international students, shows that the majority of US universities saw a decline in the number of applications from overseas students for the current academic year.
A survey of admissions and professional staff at 139 US universities and colleges, conducted in February 2018, found that 53 per cent had seen a decline in the number of applications from overseas students between 2016-17 and 2017-18. Of those respondents, 44 per cent said that the number of applications had declined by more than 10 per cent, with applicants from China, India and the Middle East and North Africa region seeing the biggest declines.
The political environment in the US was cited as the main reason for the drops, chosen by 71 per cent of respondents, followed by increased visa delays or denials (60 per cent)