Number of foreign students in PH drops to all-time-low in 2020

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The number of foreign students in the country plummeted last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a 75% drop in student visa applications, the Bureau of Immigration reported. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 5) — The number of foreign students in the country plummeted last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a 75% drop in student visa applications, the Bureau of Immigration reported.

"The number of foreign students in the country dropped to an all-time low in 2020," the agency said in a statement on Friday.

There were only 1,254 foreigners who applied for student visas in 2020, compared to the 4,785 applicants the previous year. Applications for visa renewals also suffered a 31% drop from 10,433 in 2019 to 7,170 in 2020.

Foreign elementary and high school pupils who applied for special study permits also shrank by 74% with only 1,962 applications last year, compared to the 7,428 applications in 2019.

The lower numbers in applications along with some foreign students returning to their home countries, also meant decreases in revenues for the agency. The bureau said revenue collections from foreign student visa fees amounted to ₱151 million in 2020, which is 28% lower than the previous year.

Immigration commissioner Jaime Morente said he hopes for a better turnout this year with the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines.

"Pre-pandemic, the country has been a top destination for international students wanting to take English language courses, as well as study in the field of medicine," he said.