U.S. Politics and International Education: How do Presidential political affiliations, study abroad and international student enrollment correlate?

By Bradley A. Feuling, Chairman and CEO, The Asia Institute


Further Reading:

The 2016 Asia Short-Term Programs Report  is an in-depth look at over 600 short-term faculty-led programs developed in Asia in 2016. The report findings offer valuable insights and benchmarking data, which Study Abroad and Global Programs Offices can use to assess their own program offerings.


Table 1: U.S. Presidential Party Affiliations and U.S. Higher Education Institution (HEI) Study Abroad (2000-2015)

President Party Affiliation Years Served Number of Study Abroad Students Net Increase/ Decrease in Study Abroad Enrollment Study Abroad Students as a Percent of Total Enrollment Fulbright Applications Received Annual Increase/ Decrease in Fulbright Applications Received Percentage Change in Fulbright Applications Received from Previous Administration
George W. Bush Republican 2000-2008 154,168-262,416 +108,248 Increase of 1.01% to 1.44% 4,185-6,404 +2,219 +713%
Barack Obama Democrat 2008-2016 260,327-313,415* +53,088* Increase of 1.36% to 1.55%* 6,703-11,091 +4,388 +98%

*Data provided for 2008/09-2014/15


Table 2: U.S. Presidential Party Affiliations, International Student (IS) and Total Higher Education Institution (HEI) Student Enrollment (1980-2016)

President Party Affiliation Years Served Number of International Students Net Increase/Decrease in IS Enrollment Percentage Change for IS Enrollment from Previous Administration Total HEI Enrollment** Net Increase/Decrease in Total HEI Enrollment** Percentage Change for Total HEI Enrollment from Previous Administration IS Percent of Total Enrollment
Ronald Reagan Republican 1980-1988 311,882 - 356,187 +44,305 Percentage Change Not Available 12.1 - 12.7 +0.6 Percentage Change Not Available 2.6% - 2.8%
George H. W. Bush Republican 1988-1992 366,354 - 419,585 +53,231 +20% 13.0 - 14.3 +1.3 +117% 2.8% - 2.9%
Bill Clinton Democrat 1992-2000 438,618 - 514,723 +76,105 +43% 14.5 - 14.8 +0.3 -77% 3.0% - 3.5%
George W. Bush Republican 2000-2008 547,867 - 623,805 +75,938 -0.002% 15.3 - 18.2 +2.9 +867% 3.6% - 3.4%
Barack Obama Democrat 2008-2016 671,616 - 1,043,839 +372,223 +390% 19.1 - 20.3 +1.2 -59% 3.5% - 5.1%

**Data provided for Total HEI Enrollment and Net Increase/Decrease in Total HEI Enrollment is in millions




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