Like most schools, North Carolina State University prides itself on diversity. International students play a big part, but officials are concerned that international applications are down by up to 30 percent.
"The perception is the United States is not as welcoming an environment for students to study in," said Michael Bustle, director of the Office of International Scholars and Student Services. "A lot of students know it's more difficult to get a visa. They'll have to go through a security background check and worry how long it will take to get a visa."
Thirty students at N.C. State were turned away last fall because they could not get visas before classes started. While applications may have dropped at N.C. State, enrollment has not. Still, the school is making changes.
N.C. State is being more proactive. Educators are trying to complete the application process sooner, so potential students have more time to deal with visa issues.
Yaw Kyei, a student from Ghana, believes foreigners are now choosing convenience over hassle.
"If they can find places in the world like Britain or Australia, places with less restrictions, it's more convenient to go there," Kyei said.
However, American educators do not want them to go elsewhere. Several organizations are now urging Congress and the Department of Homeland Security to establish a balanced visa program that welcomes legitimate visitors while preventing entry for those who may do harm.
Bustle said there are some reasons for a possible decline in applications. He said many schools have seen tuition increases and in a tough economy, there is less support for financial aid.
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