Carlos Coto, 21, of Costa Rica, a junior at New...

Carlos Coto, 21, of Costa Rica, a junior at New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, told Newsday on April 5, 2017, that he would encourage students from other countries to pursue higher education in the United States even if the entrance process becomes more difficult. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

College admissions officials say prospective students from other countries and their families are expressing concern about the ability to attend colleges in the United States, signaling a possible slowdown in the population of international students here, according to a new survey.

The report, released by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, showed prospective students from the Middle East expressed the most concern, at 79 percent. That was followed by 46 percent of students from India; 36 percent from Asian countries, excluding China and India; and 34 percent from Latin America.

The worries of student applicants — particularly regarding their abilities to get visa approval and future internship/employment opportunities — were reported by admissions and enrollment officials at 294 U.S. colleges and universities.

The report is the first to assess the perceptions of international students and is intended to provide snapshot data in advance of students’ enrollment for the fall 2017 semester.

“Politics in the United States absolutely filters out across the globe and has implications in the admissions cycle,” said Melanie Gottlieb, deputy director at the association, which led the survey. “Our report means to send out an early warning sign, so institutions know they need to step up their communications and launch a bigger effort in order to mitigate the problems involved in the larger immigration process.”

The nonprofit organization of more than 11,000 higher education professionals, based in Washington, D.C., released the full report late Tuesday.

The survey followed President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 signing of an executive order that temporarily suspended the entry of citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — and indefinitely barred entry of Syrian refugees. A federal appeals court halted imposition of that travel ban.

Trump’s revised executive order, signed March 6, would bar new visas for people from the same countries, with the exception of Iraq, and temporarily shut down the U.S. refugee program. It does not apply to travelers who already have visas. That order is on hold after a federal judge in Hawaii blocked it on the grounds that it discriminates against Muslims, and a federal appeals court is scheduled to hear the case in May.

Several institutions on Long Island — including Adelphi University, Hofstra University, Molloy College, Nassau Community College and Stony Brook University — joined a coalition of nearly 600 other U.S. colleges and universities that formally opposed Trump’s original January executive order.

Kristen Capezza, Adelphi’s associate vice president for enrollment management, said while the number of applications from foreign students there is up over last year’s, her office is hearing some of the same worries from them.

“The biggest concern is whether these students are going to progress through the admission cycle,” she said. “We are reaching out one-on-one to our admitted students to let them know that despite the political climate, they are welcome here.”

Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley was among those who voiced early concern on the impact any U.S. travel restrictions might have on global faculty and student scholarship. Hundreds of students, professors and staff participated in two rallies at the school on Feb. 1, denouncing the first executive order.

SBU officials said Wednesday that international student applications have declined when compared with the same period last year. Applications for graduate spots are down nearly 15 percent and those on the undergraduate level have declined by 9 percent.

Carlos Coto, 21, of Costa Rica, a junior at New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, said he has heard concerns from other international students, but “still I would advise students to try to come here.”

He said those students’ worries largely depended upon which country they are from and what they hope to do after their undergraduate experience — stay in the United States for graduate school and/or a job or return to their home country.

For him, coming in August 2014 to attend NYIT and play soccer was “the most exciting thing that could ever happen to me,” he said.

“I know that if I was in the recruiting process right now, I would still come to the U.S. regardless of the political situation and still encourage people to come here, even if the process is harder,” Coto said.

For the survey, the association’s researchers partnered with four higher education groups: the Institute of International Education, or IIE; the International Association of College Admission Counseling; the National Association of College Admission Counseling, or NACAC; and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

The report comes after about a decade of international student population growth at public and private colleges and universities across the United States.

In the 2015-16 academic year, the number of students from other countries enrolled in U.S. colleges surpassed the 1 million mark, a record level, according to the most recent IIE Open Doors report, released in November. The institute, a Manhattan-based nonprofit, tracks student mobility — both of students who come from other countries to the United States and those here who study abroad — and has produced the report since 1954.

The Open Doors report found that China, India, Saudi Arabia and South Korea continued to be the top countries of origin for international students at U.S. institutions.

New York was the second-leading host state, behind California, with New York City as the top-hosting metropolitan area. New York University was the top host institution for international students.

The total number of international students in the 2015-16 school year was 1,043,839, a 7.1 percent rise over the previous year. They accounted for 5.2 percent of all students in the U.S. higher education system.

International students contributed nearly $36 billion to the U.S. economy that year, according to U.S. Department of Commerce data, which was included in the Open Doors report.

U.S. entry concerns by region and country

Some prospective students from other countries and their families are worried about the ability to attend colleges in the United States, a new survey of admissions and enrollment officials says.

Here, by region and country, are the top five percentages of those showing concern, according to 294 institution-based professionals working in recruitment of international students:

  • Middle East: 79%
  • India: 46%
  • Asia, excluding China and India: 36%
  • Latin America: 34%
  • China: 26%
  • Africa: 26%

Source: American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, “Trending Topics Survey: International Applicants for Fall 2017 — Institutional & Applicant Perceptions”

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