In the coming weeks, tens of millions of students are set to descend on college campuses across the United States in what many universities had hoped would kick-start the first normal and mostly in-person academic year since the onset of the pandemic. The rise of the Delta variant may be complicating those plans, but there is another factor threatening a return to college as usual: U.S. universities may be losing their luster in China, the U.S.’s largest source of international students.
Chinese student applications for the coming academic year shrank 18% compared with last year's cycle, according to data from application platform CommonApp. The decline appears especially pronounced given that U.S. colleges got a 9% boost in applications from international students in this cycle compared with the previous one. School administrators and experts attribute the overall boost in applications, at least in part, to U.S. President Joe Biden's electoral victory over Donald Trump last November and the perception among that the new administration would be more receptive to visa applications from foreign students and