US Universities worry about potential loss of Chinese students

Friday, August 2, 2019

If anything always seemed impossible, it was a reduction of the flow of Chinese students into US Universities.

Well, it happened—yet another blow to the already weakened US universities' economy. 
China’s warnings about the “risks”  students could face in the United States pose a major challenge for US higher education because China is the largest source of international enrollment for US colleges and universities. 

According to the Institute of International Education, there were more than 300 Chinese students in the United States in the 2017-2018 school year, three times the 2010 count.

"Let's be clear," an official said. "This not good.  We love Chinese students. The U.S. schools benefit from the tuition and the global perspective they add to campuses."

Colleges are now scrambling to understand how the friction between the US and China could affect their enrollment. “All college and university presidents want to have an internationally diverse campus because our students are going to exist in a globalized world,” said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for the American Council on Education, a higher-education group.

“But for several reasons, there are more concerns about international students enrolling at colleges and universities than I remember in the last 25 years.” Hartle added, “Campus officials are worried that international students could become pawns in a trade war.” The impact of curtailing Chinese enrollment would vary widely. While the most selective schools would hate to lose exceptional talent from China, others are worried about the stability of a key source of tuition revenue.

At Colgate University, a third of the 75 or so international students in each class are from China, said Jamiere N. Abney, senior assistant dean of admissions. He said college officials are well aware of the financial hit some schools would face with the loss of Chinese students. He could readily see the potential loss of campus culture.
“Something like this, a political thing outside our control, can definitely impact us in a unique way,”  Abney said.

Pomona College has dozens of Chinese students. “If we claim to have the best educational system in the world, then we have to be competitive globally,” said Pomona President G. Gabrielle Starr, “and not just drawing students from our own backyard or across the United States.” She said the Chinese add to the “diversity of thought and culture” on campus.

For the University of California at Berkeley, the 1,460 undergraduate and 988 graduate students from China are by far the largest group of international students. 

In addition to diversifying university populations, Chinese students also contribute greatly to university profits with their full tuition payments. Therefore, it is no surprise that every college admission official wants to keep the Chinese coming.

Let's be honest. If our goal to provide a diverse, multicultural environment that prepares our students to enter a global workforce in which China is a leading competitor in the international economy, it will be incredibly difficult to attain with the current US-China relations.

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