The number of international students at Texas Tech has fallen ever-so-slightly in 2017, but the groups that lost students mirror other enrollment trends at Tech.
The number of international students is down less than 1 percent - 0.678 percent, to be exact - from 3,105 in fall of 2016 to 3,084 this fall, according to Chris Cook, managing director of communications and marketing at Tech.
That dip came as other enrollment numbers, including overall undergraduate students, have increased at Tech. But university officials, including those who oversee international recruiting, say there’s likely no one reason for the slight drop.
Sukant Misra, associate vice provost for international programs at Tech, acknowledged that nationwide, there has been a drop in international students, but he said Tech’s numbers were very similar to last year’s enrollment.
“Granted, in previous years, we’ve seen an increase,” Misra said. “Granted this year, we did not see that increase. But it’s not the decrease that others have experienced.”
The number of undergraduates at Tech increased 6.9 percent during the past year, from 1,521 to 1,611 in fall 2017. But the number of graduate students decreased by 6.3 percent to 1,464 graduate students in 2017. Similarly, the number of law students from other countries fell to nine in 2017 from 22 in 2016.
Those numbers, however, are similar to the story Tech has presented of enrollment patterns among all students at the university. This fall is the first time the undergraduate student body at Tech has surpassed 30,000, with 30,759 undergraduates enrolled. At the same time, total graduate school enrollment dropped 4.16 percent from 6,058 graduate students in fall 2016 to 5,806 graduate students this year. The Tech law school cut its own class size, leading to a drop of 85 students from 530 in fall 2016.
Through a public records request during the summer, Tech released the number of applications submitted to the university by international applicants. The number of foreign applicants to Tech dropped by 23.42 percent in the past year from 6,038 in fall 2016 to 4,624 in fall 2017. Tech has had growth in the number of applicants over the past five years, though, with just 2,131 applying in fall 2013, 6,152 applying in fall 2014 and 6,465 applying in fall 2015.
During the summer, Vice Provost Tibor Nagy said Tech’s Office of International Affairs has worked very hard at growing enrollment since 2004. He said there could be any number of reasons for lower numbers of applicants, including the possibility that improvements to universities in other countries are now drawing more of those potential students. Weaker oil prices can also lead to fewer students who come from oil-rich countries.
“To be honest with you, it’s very difficult to point to one particular reason for that (drop in international students in the U.S.) I’m not necessarily convinced that there is one reason for it,” Misra said.
But Nagy said international students are valued at Tech.
“We at Texas Tech, we recruit international students, and they enhance our campus tremendously,” Nagy said.