New rules for international students could cost American universities billions

With a growing number of universities planning to offer fall classes online, many international students will not be able to stay in the US, according to new rules issued on Monday. That could mean a significant blow to school budgets and student aid.

According to guidelines issued by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service, “Students who attend schools that operate entirely online cannot take a full load of online courses and remain in the United States.”

According to federal immigration authorities, students who are enrolled in such programs “must leave the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction.”

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“At a time when enrollment of new international students is in decline, our nation is at risk of losing global talent with new policies that harm us academically and financially,” Esther Brimmer, NAFSA executive director and CEO, said in a statement: Association of International Educators. .

International students in the US contributed nearly $ 41 billion to the national economy in the 2018-2019 academic year, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators. (According to other accounts, the number is even higher.)

For years, there has been a large influx of students studying in this country, particularly from China.

In fact, a third of all international students in the US come from China, more than any other nation, both in absolute numbers and as a general percentage, according to the Institute of International Education.

Before the Covid-19 explosion, the number of Chinese students in the United States was approximately 370,000, according to the latest data.

But those numbers had been declining more recently due to the more restrictive student visa policies in the U.S. and changing attitudes abroad about studying here.

The coronavirus crisis “throws fuel into the fire,” said Hafeez Lakhani, president of New York-based Lakhani Coaching.

Harvard university

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Monday’s announcement came immediately after news from Harvard University that some students will be welcome on campus this fall semester, but classes will be held online.

“This guide undermines the thoughtful approach taken on behalf of students by so many institutions, including Harvard, to plan ongoing academic programs while balancing the health and safety challenges of the global pandemic,” said Harvard President Lawrence Bacow. , it’s a statement.

“We must do everything possible to ensure that our students can continue their studies without fear of being forced to leave the country in the middle of the year, interrupting their academic progress and undermining the commitments and sacrifices that many of them have made to advance their education. “

Other Ivy League schools, such as the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University, plan to teach some classes in person, while the California State University System announced that all students, enrolled at 23 campuses, will take classes in fall online. (In many other schools, there is still little clarity about what the next academic year will be like.)

The bottom line

If fewer international students can study in this country, it could spell trouble for the universities that have them.

Over the past decade, deep cuts in state funding for higher education have pressured schools to admit more students who need less help, which is why so many schools have become dependent on the earnings of foreign students, they generally pay the best price.

“Those students are also, in general, paying full tuition to study in this country,” said Lakhani. “That is a really valuable tuition base.”

According to Lakhani, mid-level private universities that depend on international enrollment will be particularly affected.

“It really impacts the bottom line,” he said.

Universities have a difficult equation to balance.

Hafeez Lakhani

president of Lakhani Coaching

Overall, the decrease in enrollment and retention rates due to Covid-19, as well as the cancellations of summer programs and the significant decrease in donations, have already affected colleges and universities.

As a result, colleges and universities “will seek more national students who pay full tuition,” Lakhani said.

That means those schools may not be as generous with their financial aid offers, he added. (Currently, about 66% of all full-time students receive aid, and it is the single most important factor in determining access to a college education.)

“Universities have a difficult equation to balance,” said Lakhani.

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