There was an excellent piece recently in “The Washington Post” by Nick Anderson entitled “Surge in foreign students may be crowding Americans out of elite colleges” that we figured we’d share. As the title implies, with the exception of right after the 9/11 attacks, the number of students from countries outside the United States applying to American colleges has been steadily climbing or, well, surging. This is particularly the case within the Ivy League.
At Yale University, international students accounted for 11% of the incoming class in 2014. And, as Anderson writes, “As Yale’s undergraduate enrollment has edged upward since 2004, foreigners have accounted for almost all of the growth, reflecting a deliberate strategy to deepen Yale’s engagement with the world.” Within the ten years between 2004 and 2014, the percentage of international students at Brown University just about doubled to 12%. And at Columbia, it surged to 15% of the incoming class. As Anderson writes, “The only Ivy League schools with single-digit international shares in 2014 were Dartmouth College (8 percent) and Cornell University (9 percent).” Interesting indeed.
Some folks have written in with Comments to our posts on the surge of international applicants to highly selective American universities over the years. These Comments have often been critical of our universities for admitting so many international applicants, students who will take up slots that American students would have otherwise filled. And we hear the concerns of these folks. But here’s what we have to say back: our American young people are better off to attend universities with fellow students who hail from around the world. That global perspective, that diversity is integral to their education. Oh, and for all of those American students seeking financial aid at America’s highly selective universities…who do you think is paying for your college education? International applicants contribute in a major way to the revenue stream of these very institutions. As Marie Antoinette once so famously said…”You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Oh wait, she just said, “Let them eat cake.” Whatever. Close enough.
Could foreign college applicants decline in the U.S. under President-elect Trump? There’s an interesting piece in “The New York Times” today by Nida Najar and Stephanie Saul about how students who have been considering coming to the United States for their undergraduate and graduate studies might be rethinking their plans in light of the election of Donald Trump. President-elect Trump, after all, has championed anti-immigrant, xenophobic rhetoric during the course of his presidential campaign, and this has scared some students, among them Muslim students, away from studying in the United States.
The best universities are in the United States of America, no matter the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. International applicants will still be applying in droves to American universities under the next American president.
As reported by Najar and Saul in their piece entitled “Is It Safe? Foreign Students Consider College in Donald Trump’s U.S,” “This year, the number of international students in United States colleges surpassed one million for the first time, bringing more than $32 billion a year into the economy and infusions of money to financially struggling colleges. College admissions officials in the United States caution that it is too early to draw firm conclusions about overseas applications, because deadlines for applications are generally in January and February. But they are worried that Mr. Trump’s election as president could portend a decline in international candidates. Canadian universities have already detected a postelection surge in interest from overseas.”
Do we believe that some students will second guess or rethink their decisions to pursue their educations in the United States because of the election of Donald Trump? Yes. Do we believe that the vast majority of students will second guess or rethink their decisions to come to the U.S. for their college and graduate school educations? No. And if there end up being fewer international applicants this year because of the results of the presidential election, we anticipate the numbers will return to pre-election levels the subsequent year. The best universities in the world are in the United States. And this isn’t going to change because of the next occupant of the White House.