International Students avoiding US

International Students. By Vrenibean (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
One aspect of cultural globalization is the movement of students amongst countries. Over the last few years I have noticed a strong trend as more of my undergraduate students ask me for letters of recommendation to apply to graduate programs in Latin America, Europe, South Africa and New Zealand. In part, I believe that the rising relative cost of an education in the United States drives this trend. At the same time, just under a quarter of the students in our International and Global Studies department at Portland State University are international students. In my program, a discussion concerning migration will be shaped by the fact that there is often someone in the class who is either a refugee, or the child of refugees. This exchange is part of what makes higher education in the United States a cosmopolitan world.

I am very concerned that the travel ban and anti-immigrant rhetoric in the United States changes how our country is perceived as a place to study on a global level. If students are uncertain that they will be welcomed, why would they apply here instead of the University of Victoria in Canada or the University of Manchester in Britain? Sadly, we seem to be already seeing declining international enrollments at my institution, as this article by Stephanie Saul in the New York Times discusses.

Shawn Smallman, 2017

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