A story in today’s Washington Post reveals that enrollment of foreign students in U.S. colleges and universities is on the decline, not a complete surprise given the Trump Administration’s ban on foreign visitors.
The data show about a seven percent drop for the current fiscal year, down for the first time in a while, but Trump has been president for less than a year, so its reflection of his policies is more pronounced.
Foreign students by and large pay full retail for their U.S. college experience, something few American students do. A high official at Virginia Tech told me a few years ago that foreign students help compensate for the General Assembly’s parsimonious approach to college funding. “We have to have them,” he said at the time. “It helps us break even.” And it helps explain why your son or daughter didn’t make the cut in the engineering program, which is in high demand internationally.
The University of Florida (whose graduate programs have been affected) provost Joseph Glover is quoted as saying, “If it represents the beginning of a downward trend, that could represent a serious problem for the nation. It’s something that we’re watching with great concern.”
If we lose a lot of these retail students, something has to give. The government will have to come up with the subsidies these students are paying; colleges will have to trim staff and programs; their building programs will suffer; they will simply be poorer.
Xenophobia comes with a price.
(Photo: U.S. News.)