For those of you who are planning to attend either a boarding school or university abroad, it’s the time of the year to start thinking about researching schools and universities. In the last couple of weeks (well since the Inauguration) there has been a great deal of concern about pursuing an education in the US. It’s time to try and take an objective look at the realities of attending school in the US.
First off it is important to note one major factor – China is not among the list of countries under the current immigration ban. Barring any disastrous White House policies, the main focus is on Middle Eastern countries and illegal immigrants currently in the US. This is why it is important that both now and in the future you follow the US Embassy guidelines when applying for any type of visa to the US. AVOID any agent offering services. The US Embassy has very clear instructions in Chinese.
Second, it is important to note the financial contribution international students make to the US economy. According to Opendoors, a research profile conducted by the Institute of International Education, there were approximately 1,043,839 international students attending educational programs in the US in 2016. Those students, in one way or another, contributed $35.8 billion (yes billion) to the economy. Of the 35.8 billion, 67% came from personal or family living expenses, 17% from tuition, 7% from funding from other governments, and 7% from current employment. This $35.8 billion does not include contributions made by students and families attending boarding or day schools. So, in fact, the amount of money that international students bring to the US is higher. Thus, it would have a disastrous effect if the US closed its doors to international students. One could also argue that Chinese students, which sends the most amount of students to the US, with a total of 328,547 students, adds an impressive financial contribution if we factor in boarding and day students along with associated costs such as living expenses, buying houses and cars, travel to and from the US as well as travel within the States while residing in the US. No matter how one looks at it, the financial impact is one the US cannot afford to change.
Third is the social impact on schools, communities and the diversity of cultures international students bring to campuses. Cross-cultural awareness is important, or at least should be important, to a world that is becoming increasingly smaller and more integrated. So while it may seem there is currently a loud voice of Nationalism in the US, schools and universities are not a part of that voice. In fact, almost immediately after the announcement from the White House about the ban, many schools issued a message to the media, counselors around the world, and students, that they do not share the administration’s perspective. Further, many schools have also issued “safe haven” statuses to students from the affected countries.
If students and families are still concerned about the future of education in the US and are thinking about alternative countries, this too poses risks. As an example, students may be considering Canada, the UK, or other destinations for educational opportunities. However, the increase in potential applicants will only make acceptance that much more selective. Further, the US is not the only country currently impacted by Nationalistic sentiment. It is important to remember that a countries educational system is primarily for students from those countries, no matter what country we are talking about. Education in any country is a privilege for any student, but certainly more so for students who are not natives to that country.
So what should students and families do? Well, consider first that the US still is, and should be, a destination for education. More importantly, keep up with the news and make sure they understand what is being said. Next, research widely, not just focusing on the US. Keeping an open mind will help families make good decisions about opportunities. Not only be open minded, but remain flexible when making choices should things go strangely awry.
Now, get to researching!