“With travel restrictions, visa delays, and economic instability worldwide, COVID-19 has been incredibly harmful to the field of international education,” said Esther D. Brimmer, the executive director and CEO of NAFSA: Association of International Educators. “We need Congress to support legislation protecting international education to save American jobs and ensure U.S. students remain globally competitive at a time where we cannot afford to lose our competitive edge.”
So far, the U.S. has potentially lost nearly $1 billion from shortened or canceled study abroad programs where international students, scholars, faculty and staff traditionally spent around $638 million, NAFSA reports. Moreover, the education nonprofit estimates U.S. colleges will lose at least $3 billion for fall 2020 from the decreased enrollment of international students – who typically pay full tuition.
Seventy-eight percent of international students told NAFSA they will not enroll in U.S. colleges this fall due to the pandemic.
For international students who remained on campuses throughout the country, 38 percent of respondents indicated they needed ongoing support, which NAFSA estimates are equivalent to $418.5 million in total spending.
With billions of dollars lost, NAFSA says tens of thousands of American jobs will likely be eliminated if congressional action or financial relief cannot be provided. Potential impacts could include reduced hours, furloughs, eliminated positions, hiring freezes and salary reductions
The organization – which has more than 10,000 members – has prepared requests it will send out to Congress to change current existing policies, including the waiver of in-person interview requirements for visas and direct financial assistance totaling $46.6 billion for housing, scholarships, food, rent, airfare and tuition refunds and more.