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International student enrollment in UA's Eller College Down, following nationwide Trend

Posted at 6:27 AM, Oct 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 09:27:37-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Business schools are seeing a decrease in international student enrollment nationwide, and the University of Arizona’s Eller College is following that trend.

“Yes, we absolutely saw a decrease in the international student population, this year as a result of, of the pandemic for the graduate business programs,” said Bruce Watson, the manager of graduate recruitment at Eller College.

Watson said, part of that drop is due to the travel restrictions put in place once the COVID-19 pandemic started.

“The other side of that same coin was international students to study in the US of course, need a student visa, and to get a student visa, you have to do a student visa interview in your home country. So when the pandemic really started to pick up a lot of the embassies, which is where the students would have gone for those visa interviews, actually closed,” said Watson.

Leaving the students nowhere to go to do the interview that would have been necessary to obtain a visa.

Eller College has 17 graduate programs, with each program having different student demographics.

“We have a program that's called our MS in management information systems. That program has historically been about 80% international, sometimes it's even a little bit higher. So this past year they were expecting, 80 to 85 students to be coming from another country to study. And so as a result, they were not able to get to that number and we did have about 80 students that couldn't join that program,” said Watson.

However, Watson said there is a solution. Eller College has been flexible with providing options to students, such as deferring enrollment, waiving some application fees and removing some testing requirements.

“So we're saying, you know, we understand that you're not able to join us this year. We'd love for you to join us next year. And so far over half of them have committed to next fall in place of this fall, where they would have normally started,” said Watson.

The application process for Fall 2021 has already started. Eller College is encouraging international students apply as soon as possible. That will give them the maximum time to make sure they can work out getting a visa and wait out any delays.