Fewer International Students Coming to U.S. Universities

You would be hard pressed if you strolled down Locus Walk at the University of Pennsylvania or along the commons at Yale’s New Haven, Conn. Campus, to believe that the number of international students at American universities was on the decline. Ivy League schools like Penn and Yale have no shortage of foreign applicants.

As a matter of fact, Harvard is currently facing a lawsuit against its allegedly discriminatory admissions practices against Asian applicants, contending that they won’t accept enough of them. When you drop down a tier or two, things are worryingly difficult. The sticker shock of college tuition and negative political rhetoric is slowing down the robust rate of application seen over the past decade.

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The number of new international students enrolling at American institutions fell by 6.6% during the 2017-18 academic year, on top of a 3.3% decline the year before, according to the Institute of International Education released Tuesday.

It’s a big world out there, and there are many who still want to come to the best colleges and universities in America. While tuition costs on average range from $20,000 to $70,000 after financial aid, the majority of foreign applicants rely on family funds. Fifty-nine percent of undergraduates and eighty-two percent of graduate students have no aid, and rely on family savings, said Marie Royce, assistant secretary of state for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. The state department estimates that these international students bring with them some $42 billion in economic impact and 450,000 jobs to the U.S.

The slowdown comes as American colleges and universities struggle with demographic and revenue challenges due to the falling number of Americans graduating from high school. The falling number has everything to do with the precipitous decline in birth rates, not an increase in the number of drop-outs. This will be an ongoing generational problem for colleges on the fringe. Malcolm L. Cowen, president of Cornerstone Partners, a money management firm in Bethlehem, PA, and a trustee at several mid-tier colleges, notes the deleterious effects of a declining population base. “Schools like Dickenson College in Pennsylvania and those in that realm are really going to have to make drastic changes in the next five years in order to stay afloat. The days of increasing tuition to make up for the shortfall are over.” Cowen suggests that schools need to accept more full-pay students, meaning the ones whose parents are not eligible for financial aid. The academics in the ivory towers have not put this together yet. Plans are in place at many small colleges to downsize departments and the faculty that go with them.

The U.S. and its universities need to do a better job in attracting international students in an attempt to win back those that are matriculating to countries like Canada, where after graduation, students are granted permanent citizenship, much unlike the United States. Pathways to citizenship are important to international students whose home countries have not reached the same excellence in education. Many students, the best and brightest immigrants from their countries, want to work in the U.S. before returning home, or they want to stay in the U.S., where freedom, excellence and innovation have been hallmarks of the economy.

These are exactly the immigrants the United States should court. They bring not only a willingness to work, but an intellectual curiosity that can only benefit America. They are doing it the right way as well, as opposed to the overly uneducated that caravan and come illegally to the United States, bringing unchecked disease, crime, and a cost of education and healthcare that cannot be supported by the U.S. financially. If Americans are unwilling to do the jobs that illegals will do, then get rid of those jobs. The country would be well without the plethora of fast-food chains and need for constant lawn and gardening and other subservient tasks.

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