Political climate impacting international student perception of US

Political climate impacting international student perception of US

A report by World Education Services has suggested that the political climate might be having an adverse effect on the international student perception of the US.

With the current political climate in the US projecting negativity about immigrants and other internationals – in particular President Trump’s pledge to build a border to Mexico and introduction of a travel ban – many are questioning whether the US is welcoming to people of international origin.

A recent report by World Education Services (WES) – “Are US HEIs Meeting The Needs Of International Students?” examines whether the US is welcoming to international students.

The survey found that the majority of international students think that the US is a welcoming country (79%).

However, given that the study was of current international students, there is some degree of bias in these findings as all of those surveyed has already made the choice to pursue their education in the US, having started or recently completed their programme.

The perception that the US is not a welcoming place for international student is likely to be a barrier to many at the decision-making stage, and a recent NAFSA study found that 50 percent of institutions think that international students’ feeling unwelcome in the US is in part responsible for falling international student enrolment.

Nation of origin has biggest impact on how welcoming US appears

Of all international students, Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) students are the most likely to think that the US is a welcoming country (86%), perhaps surprising given the current political context.

In contrast, more local international students hailing from Latin America and the Caribbean are the least likely to find the US welcoming (68%).

One suggested reason for this is that perception may be being influenced by US political tensions with countries in Latin America, in particular Mexico and Venezuela. Though the report also notes that the survey was conducted just a few months after family separations at the US-Mexico border was widely reported on in international press.

Looking to students from Asia, the report states that Chinese students are 11 percent less likely than Indian students to find the US welcoming.

The continuing US-China trade war is likely to be the culprit here, particularly following the US president describing Chinese international students in the country as spies.

Beyond the explicit political details, the US government truncated Chinese student visas for master’s students in certain STEM fields last year, reducing the visa length from five years to just one year.

Pic: Nout Gons

Kate Frazer - Global Education Times (GET News)

Kate Frazer is a reporter for Global Education Times with a focus on UK/Ireland and North American education news. When she is not writing for GET News, Kate spends her time as an English and Maths tutor, and is currently pursuing her PGCE in Secondary Mathematics.
You can reach her at: kate@globaleducationtimes.org

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