COVID19: $3 billion hit for US due to loss of foreign students

COVID19: $3 billion hit for US due to loss of foreign students

A loss of at least $3 billion has been predicted for US higher education institutions as a result of the sharp decline in foreign students enrolment anticipated for the 2020 autumn term due to the COVID19 outbreak.

The NAFSA 2020 Financial Impact Survey published earlier this month sought to gain an insight into the financial impact that COVID-19 is having upon HEIs in the US.

The report gained responses from 346 institutions, who provided information regarding how COVID-19 had impacted them, both short-term and predictions for its impact in the long-term, too.

NAFSA predicted that it will take several years for institutions to rebuild their former numbers of international student enrollment.

The intention of the study is partly to share the findings with the US Congress, promoting further economic aid for the sector.

$1 billion lost due to shortened or cancelled study abroad programmes

The results of the survey found that, as a sector, higher education in the US has lost as much as $1 billion due to shortened or canceled study abroad programmes, in addition to the spending of $638 million in its financial support for the international students, scholars, and staff who had to remain on their campuses.

In addition to the aforementioned figures, the NAFSA study noted: “Responses further estimate that US higher education will lose at least $3 billion due to anticipated international student enrollment declines for fall 2020.”

Of the institutions that normally offer education abroad programs, 93.9% were forced to cancel these due to COVID-19, but they will not be able to recoup these funds.

For over half (53%) of these institutions, between 1 to 10 courses were cancelled, but 13% of institutions had had to cancel over 50 international courses.

The estimated cost of these cancellations for the majority of these institutions was less than $50,000, but 3.4% estimated costs of more than $3 million.

In April, it was announced that international students who have been forced to remain in the US due to the Coronavirus pandemic will receive special work permits and visa extensions.

It will take years for US to rebuild foreign students numbers after COVID19

Many of the staff who would normally advise and support international scholars will be forced to bear the brunt of the spending cuts.

Institutions stated that, as part of their response measures, these individuals would experience reduced hours (42.5% of institutions), eliminated positions (42.5%), and furloughed positions (32.5%).

One of the key aims in undertaking this survey was to demonstrate the sector’s need for additional economic relief.

To engage US policymakers, NAFSA also developed ‘Revive and Restore International Education Impacted by COVID-19’, an issue brief for Congress outlining ways that Congress could assist these HEIs.

Pic: cottonbro

Josephine Walbank - Reporter, Global Education Times (GET News)

Josephine Walbank is a reporter for Global Education Times (GET News) with a focus on education in the UK, Asia-Pacific, and Americas, and student experience and lifestyle news.

Josephine is an experienced journalist who previously served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Falmouth Anchor. She is also the former Deputy Editor of Voices, the Falmouth & Exeter Students’ Union’s publication, and has written for various food and lifestyle publications.

You can reach her at

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