During the 2015-16 academic year, the number of international students attending U.S. universities broke records.
A Wall Street Journal survey of 12 of the top 20 schools for foreign-student enrollment, including eight of the top 10, found that nearly all received more international applications for first-year admission this year than last year.
The 2015-16 academic year marked the tenth straight year of growth in the number of international students pursuing U.S. college degrees, according to data released by the Institute of International Education (IIE). IIE is a nonprofit organization that works to promote international education.
Iran sent roughly 12,000 students to study at American universities in 2015-16 alone, far more than any other country included in President Donald J. Trump’s executive order immigration restriction. Another 780 students came from Syria, 1,500 from Libya, 250 from Sudan, 1,900 from Iraq, 600 from Yemen and 35 from Somalia, according to data collected by the IIE. All of those countries are on Trump’s immigration list.
These international students play an important role in American institutions as they are an integral piece of the school’s diversity and global perspective. The extent to which students from abroad can improve education experience for all those involved is enormous.
It’s important that international students can come to America comfortably to pursue professional careers. But with Trump’s recent immigration ban, the perception of being inhospitable to immigrants could make foreign applicants jittery.
Most argue Trump’s executive order to temporarily ban immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries was a controversial move. The ban has caused almost 60,000 visas to be revoked, according to the State Department, and has split up families and loved ones.
Trump’s hastiness in signing these executive orders failed to take into consideration the implications the ban would have for students who want to study abroad or are already abroad.
Educational institutions around the world are grappling with what the restrictions mean for their students — and for academia more broadly.
The significant number of foreign students studying in the United States could diminish as a result of Trump’s executive order and prospective international relations.
Currently, schools across the country have students who are worried they won’t be allowed back into the United States if they leave.
Prospective students may not be allowed in at all. Some faculty from the banned countries also feel they will be denied re-entry if they try to leave.
All of these combined circumstances create consequences for those wanting to adventure abroad or come to the United States, specifically for those with ties to the seven countries Trump stated in the executive order.
Although this executive order doesn’t affect non-Muslim-majority countries and students who come from them, it’s essential that everyone receives an equal chance at receiving a higher education in the United States.
Trump could potentially be making it harder for young immigrants and exchange students who want to broaden their academic environment. It’s unreasonable to expect academic success from students if they feel uneasiness or hostility from the places they wish to study in.
The United States has had rocky relations with the countries ordered in the ban for reasons largely involving the widespread growth of government-backed terrorism.
But a way to move forward is for Americans and the citizens of those countries to find things they share in common.
Study abroad programs foster those exchanges, but the executive order reads to students wishing to study abroad almost like a slap in the face.
Study abroad gives both foreign and domestic students the ability to learn similar topics while being immersed in diverse environments.
U.S. campuses should actively continue reaching out to prospective and current international students to make sure they continue to feel welcome and that their academic aspirations still matter amidst tense political, national and international affairs.
Students from the United States should continue to pursue their interests abroad, regardless of the complications regarding travel.
By allowing students of different cultures and religions to study with people in the United States, universities accomplish their educational mission of fostering open and lively discussion and teaching students about the world.