Foreign Student Population Explodes
American college campuses are getting decidedly more diverse, and it's a trend that isn't likely to change anytime soon. A new study from the Institute of International Education called the "Open Doors" report finds that enrollment of international students at American colleges and universities reached an all-time high of 764,495 during the last school year. That is 6% higher than the previous year, and a 31% increase over the past decade. The largest influx of foreign college students is from China, with a 23% increase in the past year.
This trend is something to be celebrated, according to Rice Univiersity Sociology Professor Stephen Klineberg. "We are now moving into a world where the borders just make less and less sense," he tells KTRH. "A global economy, a global civilization, and American students benefit enormously from having foreign citizens in their classrooms." In particular, Klineberg points out the classroom value of international exchange students. "It just creates this tremendous preparation of our students and our young people in America for global citizenship, for being citizens of the world," he says. However, Neal McCluskey from the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom, says there is another big factor behind the surge in foreign college students---money. "When international students come, often their governments are prepared to pay the full price for their students to attend," he tells KTRH. That "full tuition" from overseas students often allows schools to bring in domestic students at a cheaper rate.
Beyond cheaper tuition and an enriched classroom experience, some American students may feel threatened by increased competition from foreign students. McCluskey says they could have a legitimate gripe, especially at public schools which receive tax subsidies. "Somebody who's been paying taxes for that school will say 'wait, because these slots have been taken up (by international students) I can't get access to a school I've already had to pay for.' " However, Professor Klineberg argues that the competition for college admissions is not a zero sum game. "Once women were accepted at law schools it made it more difficult for men to be accepted, but I'm not sure we'd say that was a bad thing, ultimately."