Houston: Donald Trump's victory in presidential polls may deter or restrict international students coming to the US for higher education and threaten the estimated USD 35 billion it adds to the American economy, experts have warned.
After a caustic presidential campaign and Trump's vows to limit immigration, build a Mexican border wall and force Muslims to register, experts in higher education sector are bracing for a backlash among students who see the US as a less welcoming destination.
Surveys of international students conducted during the presidential campaign suggested that many would be less interested in coming to the US if Trump were to become president.
For example, a survey of 40,000 students from 118 countries conducted by the international student recruiting companies FPP EDU Media and Instead found that 60 per cent said they would be less inclined to come to the US if Trump were to win, compared with just 3.8 per cent who said they would be less inclined if his opponent Hillary Clinton won.
The number of international students at US colleges and universities has hit a record high, but experts suggest that Trump's election may slow the growth of this market and threaten the estimated USD 35 billion it adds annually to the American economy.
For the first time, the number of international students at US universities exceeded a million last year, according to new figures from the Institute of International Education.
The total of about 1,044,000 was up 7 per cent from 2014-15.
China and India remained the top two sources of international students, but Saudi Arabia?bolstered by a government-funded scholarship programme?passed South Korea to pull into third on the list.
"I think America is going to continue to welcome international students, international students are going to continue to want to come here, we will continue to want to send American students abroad as students and cultural ambassadors.
I think that international educational exchange is part of the fabric of many societies, including ours," said Allan E Goodman, the president and CEO of the Institute for International Education.
The Seattle-based marketing company Study in the USA also surveyed 1,000 prospective international students on the election.
Of 975 responses, 639 said they would be more likely to study in the US if Clinton were to win, while just 91 said they would be more likely to come if Trump were elected.
"Due to Trumps very explicit racist remarks, I would not feel very comfortable studying in the USA," one respondent said.
If the rise of post-Brexit anti-foreigner attacks in Great Britain is any indication, the experts say, Trump's presidency and its possible policy implications could lead international students to look elsewhere for their educations.
Germany, Japan, Taiwan and Canada, meanwhile, have all increased international recruiting.