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Massachusetts faces sharp decline in international student admissions

Massachusetts is the 4th most popular state for international students in the US1. With big-name colleges, breathtaking landscapes, and unbeatable transport connections, it’s no surprise the Bay State hosts over 73,000 overseas pupils1.

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, it was hard to imagine Massachusetts ever losing its appeal as a study abroad destination. However, the pandemic has unleashed unprecedented chaos, forcing the state’s universities to grapple with falling international admissions.

Why are international students so important to Massachusetts?

Alongside enriching the cultural diversity and vibrancy of local communities, international students are a crucial income stream for universities. Foreign pupils can pay upwards of $50,000 in annual tuition fees, so they’re a highly-prized asset for any institution.

On the flip side, Massachusetts’ dependency on international students makes it susceptible to fluctuations in the overseas market. Put simply, most colleges can’t afford to miss out on foreign enrollments, but physical restrictions, travel bans, and campus closures have sent international admissions plummeting.

According to recent research, Massachusetts could lose up to $200 million in international tuition fees2. This would be catastrophic for universities, and could even deplete the economies of their surrounding towns.

If universities want to shield themselves from further financial blows, they must find ways to remain relevant and appealing to international students.

How to retain and recruit overseas pupils

  • Try online recruitment: Although in-person events aren’t possible right now, that doesn’t mean your recruitment strategy has to flop. Online recruitment fairs, virtual tours, and webinars are a great way to engage with potential students. You can also access new markets that you wouldn’t have had the chance to before.

  • Help students study remotely: Investing in digital technology will allow you to recreate the classroom experience from afar. This means students can follow safety guidelines and learn remotely, without compromising on the quality of their education.

  • Recognize their challenges: Studying abroad can be challenging at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic. You need to be responsive, flexible, and understanding towards the needs of your students. Ensuring they have access to financial, housing, and [mental health support](LINK TO MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT) will help them feel welcome and valued.

  • Make your campus safe: The thought of mixing with lots of pupils on campus can be scary. But, implementing measures like face masks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing shows students you’re prioritizing their wellbeing.

  • Improve your website: University websites are the number-one influence on international students’ application decisions. As digital natives, [Gen-Z students](LINK TO GEN Z GUIDE) rely on the internet for their information. So, optimizing your website is sure to impress them.

  • Work with Studee: We help more than 300 universities in 30 countries boost their international recruitment rates. We speak to hundreds of pupils daily, match them to your entry requirements, and support them through every stage of their enrollment journey. We take the hard work out of overseas admissions. What’s not to like?

If you want to smash your international admissions target, we can help.

Learn more about our service


  1. Statista, 2020

  2. Brookings, 2020