After six straight years of increases, the University of Iowa’s seeing its first decline in students from foreign nations coming to Iowa City to study. Scott King, director of the U-of-I’s Office of International Students and Scholars, says they recorded a three-and-a-half percent drop in enrollments during the first half of the current academic year. King says it’s continuing concerns about visa issues and competition from other nations that are “really pushing” their international student access, particularly Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Great Britain. In the years since the September 11th attacks of 2001, King says U.S. officials have gotten very picky about who they let in to the country.King says it’s much harder to get any visa to come to the U.S. but it’s particularly difficult for students. He says students are put through more scrutiny, they face more of an expense and there’s also more time involved in the process and “that uncertainty, we feel, has even caused students to hesitate to even think about applying to the United States.” King says the U-of-I is hosting students from a wide variety of nations. The concentration is heavily on students from Asia — China, India, South Korea — but there are now students at the U-of-I from 109 countries. For most students, it’s far from a free ride. King says in 2004-2005, the state of Iowa received more than 155-million dollars from international students, with U-of-I students contributing more than 42-million. He says nearly 72-percent of all international students reported their primary source of funding coming from personal and family sources or other sources outside the United States.
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