The divisive political discourse concerning immigration in the United States appears to be having an effect on international student interest in American universities. Nearly 40 per cent of U.S. higher education institutions reported seeing declines in international applicants for fall 2017 admissions.
The divisive political discourse concerning immigration in the United States appears to be having an effect on international student interest in American colleges and universities.
Nearly 40 per cent of US higher education institutions reported seeing declines in international applicants for fall 2017 admissions, according to a survey released this month by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.
Among the most frequently cited concerns of international students and their families about studying in the US was the perception that the climate is less welcoming to individuals from other countries and the worry that potential changes to student and work visas may hinder employment opportunities.
Amid this simmering anxiety about American higher education, colleges and universities in Canada are experiencing an increase in applicants from India and Indian students enrolled at US institutions who are looking to transfer.
Still, longitudinal studies of international student enrollment at American colleges and universities – especially enrollment of Indian students – reveal a truth that transcends the fluctuation in this year’s application cycle: the United States is still the preferred destination for students from India and other countries around the world seeking to study abroad.
For example, the number of Indian students studying in the US has grown for three consecutive years and reached a record 165,918 last academic year, according to the latest figures from the Institute of International Education. Though only China sends more students to the U.S., India represents the fastest growing country of origin for international students and has done so for two consecutive years.
For many international students, studying abroad at an American college or university is seen as a pathway to a job in the United States after graduation, leading some policy makers in countries with emerging economies like India to bemoan the “brain drain” this supposedly encourages.
In actuality, there is limited data tracking the transition of international students into the US labor market, according to policy analysts at the Migration Policy Institute, and what data there is suggests the transition rate is low.
In spite of what some skeptics of studying abroad might think, countries such as India can benefit from encouraging their citizens to study in the United States.
A 2015 paper co-authored by professors from Cambridge University’s Judge Business School, Warwick Business School, the London Business School, and highlighted in The Wall Street Journal argues as much. The study looked at 116 Indian companies and found that those that had leaders who studied or worked abroad had a competitive advantage.
Being a great university in the 21st century means being a global university, and many higher education institutions in the United States are committed to this purpose.
Not only do American colleges and universities seek to attract the best students, scientists, engineers, and scholars from all countries, but they also seek to expose these individuals to a truly cosmopolitan experience. American university communities are enriched and enlightened by the comingling of students, researchers, and teachers from around the world.
Providing this unique, diverse experience is an investment in the global future we all seek to build based on international cooperation and peace. Higher education leaders around the world continue to emulate America’s colleges and universities because of the excellence we have achieved in teaching, research, and innovation, and an essential element of that excellence is our openness to people from other nations.