“Though number of international students studying at U.S. institutions reached an all-time high last year, the global preeminence of the American higher education system must not be taken for granted. New international student enrollment – students enrolling for the first time at a U.S. institution – decreased by 6.6 percent, continuing the downward trend of the previous academic year. Several states saw their international student enrollments decline by double digits. This deterioration should be of concern to university leaders and policymakers alike.
“International students enrich our country’s intellectual and cultural vibrancy. And last year alone, they contributed more than $42 billion to the U.S. economy, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. However, these students have more choices than ever before when deciding where to study. Other countries with welcoming policies are attracting the world’s global talent and recruiting more international students away from the United States. Our nation’s leaders should ensure that our policies and messages are crafted to maximize our competitive advantage in this global competition for talent.
“We must also ensure that U.S. students are prepared to engage with the world. Studying abroad provides an unparalleled experience. While the 2016/2017 data show that the profile of U.S. students going abroad is steadily diversifying, more needs to be done to ensure that study abroad is not just a luxury, accessible primarily to students from advantaged backgrounds. Less than 2 percent of all U.S. undergraduates studied abroad in the 2016-2017 academic year. The majority of those students chose to study in Europe. APLU continues to advocate for the bipartisan and bicameral Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act to promote non-traditional study abroad locations and significantly increase the number and diversity of U.S. students abroad. Expanding participation must be a national priority to ensure that Americans are prepared to compete in today’s global economy. As Congress prepares for a potential reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, this important legislation should be included.”