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Wednesday, July 8. 2020
How dependent is American higher ed on foreign students?
Quite a lot, especially Chinese kids. I did not realize the extent, and have no strong opinion on it. However, it is clearly about money. Are some Chinese students spies, of sorts? Of course, if a spy is somebody sent by the government to get information.
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Frosting on the cake: many faculty are circulating email chain letters ballyhooing this egregiously rent-seeking petition. Do read it; I couldn't find anything in it that referred to the well-being or education of the students. Just my precious paycheck for this phony-baloney job of mine.
Oh, and deport is such a rude word. I prefer repatriate. "Back to the land of your fore-fathers." What could be more humane?
Some time ago I saw an article that said for public universities in the US "28% of annual tuition revenue comes from foreign students, who make up an average of just 12% of the student population"
Similar info is unavailable for private schools in aggregate, but a relative is on the board of a small private college, and it would be a huge blow to them lose the tuition income from the foreign students. Most internationals pay full fare plus housing, with no discounts or university-funded 'scholarships'. They were really hoping that travel-restrictions would be fully removed by the time students were deciding to return, otherwise they'd be in a bind.
My institution has hardly any international or out of state students, so it is not an issue - although we are really concerned that instead of enrolling, new students will choose to take a gap-year, or that continuing students will decide that if they are going to be online, they might as well do either cheaper community college courses that we are required to transfer in, or take courses from more established online universities that are likely to be better quality.
I know American students whose plans for study in European institutions have been cancelled because of those country's travel restrictions on entry. So far Canada is still allowing international students with current visas to enter (an exception to the land border closure), but not issuing new visas - so if you needed an extension, too bad. They're even allowing students to enter if their courses are 100% online.
I shouldn't say so as I can see from my colleagues on facebook that this is very much a minority position, but I think the reaction to this INS policy notice is all overblown.
• it is not a new policy or a change of policy, it is the ending of a temporary policy that allowed existing students to stay and complete the semesters even as their courses went 100% online in March. The US has never issued visas for online study.
• it blocks no-one from continuing and completing their degree - if their school is 100% online, they don't need to be in residence. And if they need lab-courses that require physical attendance and participation, then they can get the visa.
• it is supposedly 'aimed' at barring Chinese students, but the engineering and science subjects where labs cannot be effectively virtualized are precisely the fields where the vast majority of Chinese students are enrolled.
• In the college town where I live the non-university affiliated locals are very vocally against bringing back students from all over the state, country, and world in the fall, on account of COVID-19. It seems to them like a bad idea to encourage international travel (packed into busses and airplanes) of so many people into our comparatively un-affected region.
My wife vehemently disagrees, saying that for students already here, it is a huge imposition upon them to make them return to their country and then come back when this blows over. Very expensive in travel costs, and the travel home is just as risky as travel here for those currently abroad who would come here.
Since the 2016 election colleges have already taken a huge hit on numbers of internationals. This has mostly been because of scare-stories about Trump administration student visa policies. The policy has always been that " the consular officer must be satisfied at the time of application for a visa that an alien possesses the present intent to depart the U.S. at the conclusion of his or her studies", but the consular guidance documents in the current admin have emphasized taking this aspect seriously much more than other recent administrations.
US schools, especially public ones, exist to educate Americans, not the rest of the world. Think about a college: The infrastructure, the tax exemptions, the labor laws, the way we live our lives, all of this is for Americans first and foremost. We want leaders and thinkers of the future? Well we train and teach them to be their best in their chosen fields. It is of no benefit to this country to take China's students (or anybody else's) and give them our resources.
The fact that schools now rely on foreign money is showing how sordid the whole affair has become. Scale back if you must, raise prices, recruit more Americans. But serve your country, not outsiders.
I'm sorry, but this should all be so obvious it barely needs to be said.
Actually, public universities were chartered to educate the children of their own state, not Americans at large. Every public university routinely rejects some state natives in order to enroll students from out-of-state. These out-of-state students pay the same tuition and fees as foreign students.
It's quite a racket. If you look at list cost to attend most private colleges they all are within a couple of thousand dollars apart. This is because foreign students pay up front 100% (minus the student broker fee). So even if you are a mid level school your price is the same as a first tier. domestic students get "grants" to lower the price.
Chinese students are a special case since they are monitored closely by their government. So they live in the same dorms, go to the same classes etc. They also cheat a lot as this is permissible in China. Its a big scandal.
I have strong feelings. I think that foreign students need to be carefully vetted; and monitored.
Although, I admit that if I were to be perfectly honest, foreign students, regardless of their provenance, may be less threat to the Republic than American students and faculty.
On a tangent. I recall a few decades back that there was a great bruhaha because the U of Virginia, which limited total undergraduate enrollment fairly severely, saved a lot of slots for high paying out of state students. In state parents were incensed if their Darlings had to settle for a less prestigious school.
I'm not involved with the finance, just what I see weekly when I do work in stores around the campus. I have seen hundreds of old houses which had been converted to cheap student apartments, as well as whole blocks of one- and two-story retail, torn down to build high-rise luxury apartments. The retail comes back at street level, but often what was a locally-owned business is replaced by a national chain.
At the University of Minnesota there are now thousands of these apartments. Now some are filled with well-off American students but most are Chinese. I suspect, but don't know, that the owners of such places are also Chinese.
What will happen to such places when the supply of students drops?
This is nothing new, it goes back decades just the players have changed. About 25 years ago I went over to Boston University to visit a friend on the faculty. I was stunned by all the fancy high end German cars. They belonged to the children of the Arab oil ticks who were there paying full freight.
This does go back decades, Paul. At one time, students made do with the age-old dorm rooms that barely accommodated a twin bed, dresser and desk with 2-feet of hanging closet space; bunk beds were common, too, for maximizing students/larger room.
Suddenly -- late 70s, foreign governments such as Saudi Arabia, Japan and China started investing in "schools" or "departments" touting their own vision of their cultural, history and pollitics, then sending their students to study, mostly, STEM subjects. Thus, started the good old hand-shake of "I'll fund your expansion; you educate my youth." Along with this, the colleges and universities started building 4-star hotel-style accommodations that helped them compete for these foreign students, but also upped the price of "room and board" for all to pay for the extras. Pricey tuition followed.
Unfortunately, the quality of the instruction failed to improve with the pricing. You would not believe the retraining that needs to take place for companies to turn a graduate into a productive employee.
I taught at Union College for two years. The faculty lot was full of Chevies, and the student lot was full of Beamers.
IMHO if any American is refused entry into any college in America than that college should not be allowed to accept any non-Americans.
"Foreigners playing the American university systems to get access to jobs is long-standing, and a disgrace. We who are the American public pay a lot for the colleges and universities - either directly, through state subsidies, or indirectly, through the colleges taking advantage of their tax-free status to amass a HUGE endowment, while continuing to charge Americans ridiculous tuitions. Yet, foreigners take up many places in those schools, because they can be charged double for the privilege of attending."