Wednesday, July 15, 2020

More Thoughts On The Future Of International Students

Kevin asked an important question earlier today: will international students still come to the United States?

Back in 2018, I looked at the question of whether international students would come to the U.S. following the election of President Trump. Here are a few key snippets:

A March 2016 survey of 40,000 prospective international students in 118 countries revealed that 60% said they would be less likely to study in the United States if Trump were elected.

After Trump’s election, concerns about his effect on international student enrollment grew. Prospective international students and their parents indicated “second thoughts” about pursuing education stateside. To at least some, the United States was suddenly “risky” with “too many uncertainties.” One survey of international students found about a third had a decreased interest in studying in the United States “due to the current political climate.” Interestingly, a February 2017 survey of overseas “education agents,” individuals who advise international students about where to apply, indicated that the travel ban “permanently damaged” how 11% of recruiters saw the United States, and that it had “temporarily dampened” the opinion of another 44% of recruiters. That survey is particularly significant because recruiters have “a lot of sway… They can convince people to go to a country or not.” More than half of the recruiters reported that students had concerns about the travel ban.


Nearly half of U.S. institutions saw drops in applications received from international students in 2017. Those reduced applications then turned into reduced admissions, with 46% of graduate deans reporting “substantial downward changes in admission yields for international students,” which is to say a reduction in the number of admitted students who choose to enroll. Some of the declines were “modest to moderate” while others were “more substantial.” In Fall 2017, U.S. universities and colleges experienced a “flattening” in the overall number of enrolled international students as well as an average decrease of 7% in the number of newly enrolled international students.

These statistics reflect the fears of potential students and their families BEFORE the Trump Administration took any action directly against international students. How much more extreme (and justified) will the reaction be against pursuing studies stateside now? Faced with a choice, wouldn't a rational student with options consider pursuing schooling in Canada or another more immigrant-friendly nation?

The government's most recent efforts against international students lasted just 8 days. I fear the effects will be felt nationwide much longer.


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Law360 lays out unresolved issues from the ICE rule rescission:
But attorneys and stakeholders say key questions remain regarding the fate of foreign students abroad.

A day after the federal judge overseeing the universities' legal challenge announced that the agency had agreed to drop the policy, ICE published a new FAQ, largely reverting to measures implemented in March to offer flexibility to international students whose universities moved online.

Typically, student visa holders may not take more than one course online. But the new FAQ hasn't "really addressed what new students can do in a way that matches reality," said Feldblum.

For instance, the new FAQ says that if new students "have not arrived in the United States, they should remain in their home country," parroting the March guidance meant to address student needs when schools closed mid-semester in the spring, without addressing what new incoming students should do if their universities are holding in-person classes.

It's also unclear if foreign students could lose eligibility for Optional Practical Training, a work program for recent graduates of U.S. universities, if they can't enter the U.S. and are forced to spend a semester abroad.

"I wouldn't say that we're done yet," said Theresa Cardinal Brown of the Bipartisan Policy Center, who previously worked for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

ICE could attempt to issue new guidance further restricting foreign students, which could send attorneys in the Harvard case back to court if universities challenge it again. The case remains open at the court, and Reif promised in his message Tuesday "to protect our students from any further arbitrary policies."

Posted by: Ming Hsu Chen | Jul 16, 2020 8:59:45 AM

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