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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

AMERICA'S BEST FOREIGN RELATIONS TOOL GETTING STRONGER

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Well, for all the criticism you can throw at the diplomatic skills of the State Department (either this Administration's or previous ones), the one institution that has helped America's image abroad perhaps more than any over the generations has been our university system. I don't think I'm being overly pro-American when I say that the US has more outstanding universities than any country in the world. We certainly have more foreign students than any other country. And those students generally leave the US with a positive impression of the country. Many foreign students have gone home and eventually became leaders in their countries (some even becoming Prime Ministers and Presidents). Others have gone home to developing countries and brought vital knowledge back to their homelands. And many  choose to make America their permanent home and provide critically needed skills to the US workforce. Also, one of the lesser known benefits of foreign student admissions to the US is the fact that the students often subsidize their American counterparts by paying out of state tuition rates with no financial aid.



So while he intended it or not, Osama bin Laden scored an important political win when his terrorists successfully hijacked the student visa system as a key part of his 9/11 attack. In the years after 9/11, foreign student enrollment in the US dropped significantly, bottoming out in 2004. There were many causes. Many were tied to new security measures and visa restrictions that made the process tougher.  Security clearances were taking months on end and the word was out that the US was too unwelcoming. And universities in other countries quickly moved in to try and persuade the world's brightest students that they should look at their institutions.



Over the last few years, however, the new system got more efficient and America's universities got more competitive in attracting international students. The number of graduate students coming to the US is now back on the upswing. Admissions today are still down (though slightly) from a few years ago. But a new report from the Council on Graduate Education is mostly upbeat in its assessment of foreign student admissions in the US. Aside from increased admissions, the report's authors are also encouraged by the increased number of collaborative programs between US institutions and those in other countries.

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Comments

  1. Limbo's Avatar
    Thanks for posting a good news story. All the bad news stories and outrages can get a little depressing after a while.
  2. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    My pleasure. That's one of the reasons why I post the Immigrant of the Day. It's a nice break and reminds people that despite the obstacles, people not only make it through the immigration system, but go on to become great Americans.
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