University Business April 2018 - 48

PROFESSIONAL OPINION

Decline in international
enrollment hurts everyone
Study abroad broadens horizons while international students increase diversity on U.S. campuses
By Jonathan Green

U

.S. higher education was dealt
a serious blow last fall. The
expansion of international
education that has been a critical financial stimulus for American colleges and
universities has experienced an alarming
setback. International education in the
forms of U.S. students studying abroad
and U.S. institutions enrolling students
from other countries has been an important area of growth on campuses across
the country for the past decade.
Study abroad has been consistently
confirmed as one of the most transformative educational experiences available to a college student. At Susquehanna University, we are so committed
to this developmental advantage that
our GO (Global Opportunities) Program requires all our students to have
a study-away experience that engages
them in a culture different from their
own. To a person, our students declare
that this is one of the most empowering
and meaningful components of their
undergraduate education.
International advantage
Students who come to the U.S. from
other countries are benefiting from
the same type of transformative learning experience while they are on our
campuses. Their presence also enriches
our ability to provide sustained intercultural dialogues and to enhance
campus diversity.

UBmag.me/decline

48 | April 2018

Surveys of three cohorts of college
graduates show that U.S. students who
had increased levels of interaction with
international students had significantly
higher levels of skill development.

An important byproduct
in educating foreign
nationals is the opportunity
to expose them to the
best of our culture.
Unsurprisingly, these included higher achievement in reading or speaking a
foreign language and improved ability
to interact with people of different races,
nationalities or religions. The study also
revealed greater success in acquiring
knowledge independently, in creative
problem-solving, in synthesizing information and in understanding the role of
science and technology in society.
Falling enrollments
An equally important byproduct in
educating foreign nationals is the opportunity to expose them to the best
of our culture. They learn the fundamental beauty of a free and democratic
society, and the ways in which our
republic was born out of the founding
fathers' own education in the liberal
arts. Our international alumni become
our most compelling statesmen as they
carry the world of ideas they encounter
at our institutions back to their home
countries. Over time, those around
them become ancillary beneficiaries of
their experience.

Recently, the Institute for International Education released its annual
"Open Doors Report" (UBmag.me
/od17). This year the number of new
international students enrolling in U.S.
colleges and universities dropped by
7 percent. This has been fueled by a
variety of issues, including increased
competition from other nations such as
Canada and Australia.
There are also growing perceptions
abroad that international students are
less welcome on our campuses and in
our communities. These perceptions
have been fueled by rhetoric coming out
of the White House and underscored by
actions like the recent travel bans.
International students accounted
for $39 billion in net revenue last year.
Those funds help U.S. colleges and universities to provide educational services
to all our students, and that revenue
has a multifold economic impact in our
communities.
Those benefits alone should encourage our governmental leaders to become champions in recruiting talented
international students to our campuses.
The greater benefit however is the
educational gifts these students provide to our domestic students and our
faculty and staff colleagues. As we participate in an evermore internationally
interdependent economy and society,
we must provide our students the opportunity to learn-from each other-
how to become effective and informed
global citizens.
Jonathan Green is president of Susquehanna
University in Pennsylvania.
www.universitybusiness.com


http://www.UBmag.me/od17 http://www.UBmag.me/od17 http://www.UBmag.me/decline http://www.universitybusiness.com

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