- A recent article in the Register-Guard examines the looming trade deficit facing the United States in one of its most successful areas of export: higher education. The author cites statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which outlines that non-Americans purchased $39.4 billion in educational services from the United States in 2016, while Americans purchased about $7.5 billion in educational services from outside of the country.
- Many public institutions have offset damaging budget cuts with increased enrollment of international students, which topped 1 million students nationally for the first time in 2016, but has fallen in the last two years to just over 808,000 students.
- Increased competition from Canadian institutions, a Muslim travel ban, mass shootings and tough talk on student visa programs are limiting the United States' stronghold on innovation and revenue generated by international students.
Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec told Education Dive's editors during an office visit Wednesday that Indian and Chinese students are enrolling in significantly lower numbers, opting instead to pursue their educations in their own countries, particularly as colleges and universities there are getting stronger. Not only that, but there's increased competition from institutions in the United Kingdom and Canada, and U.S. institutions are having to move into new international markets to recruit students and meet enrollment targets.
Indeed, executive policy making on immigration and international access to the United States have caused additional problems for American colleges and universities, particularly as many higher tier institutions struggle to find students who can fill in the gaps left by high-achieving students who paid out-of-state tuition. But the changes in access may create new opportunities, and funding, for school leaders who seek out ways to create access for students in the United States; particularly those from low-income and underrepresented areas of the country.
Most states are well below-average in their efforts to serve students from these groups, and with the country's shrinking view of globalization, it may be the right time for presidents and higher education lobbyists to appeal to the government for more funding in Pell Grant appropriations, programming that supports student persistence, and pipelines which promote access from primary school through college.
Autumn A. Arnett contributed to this piece.