Indian students are seeking alternatives apart from the US for their higher education. [Representational Image]Reuters

The United States is known to be one of the most preferred destinations for students, especially from India and China. However, its education sector has reportedly taken a hit since president Donald Trump's tough immigration policies started receiving criticism from various quarters.

The worrying signs for American colleges and universities are evident as there is a clear decline in the number of visas being issued for students hailing from its biggest-feeders from Asia.

According to statistics released by the US Department of State, 3.9 lakh student visas were issued in 2017. It is 17 percent lesser compared to 2016 when 4.2 lakh visas were issued. However, when compared to 5.02 lakh visas in 2015, there was a 40 percent drop in 2017.

"The president's mandate requires us to rigorously enforce all existing grounds of inadmissibility and to ensure subsequent compliance with related laws after admission," State Department spokeswoman Ashley Garrigus was quoted as saying by Wall Street Journal.

Although Garrigus claims there are no evident changes in the fundamental visa policy, colleges are noticing a decline in the number of international students. University officials and immigration attorneys also claim that the students are being far more scrutinized than they were in the past.

Albeit there were no specific figures in the nationality wise-breakup for the student visa mentioned in the report, India and China added to over 40 percent of the total student visas issued.

"The current administration's 'America First' mantra is causing [international students] a great deal of anxiety and fear. Also, the cost of college tuition, on average, has gone up 40 percent in the last 10 years. It's weighing on them." Earl Johnson, vice president of enrollment and student services at the University of Tulsa was quoted by CNN Money as saying.

Students are also fearful of whether they would be welcome in the US post the Trump administrations' tougher stance on student visas. According to CNN Money, students are looking for alternatives in countries like Canada, Germany, and Australia as they feel the visa laws are more student-friendly in these countries.