Foreign students left out in the cold

As the first month of school comes to a close, many foreign students have yet to arrive on campus, their visa status complicated by heightened security concerns. New government regulations aimed at improving the screening of visa applicants have effectively barred thousands of would-be students from entering the country, and forced many to return home or reapply. Many of the restrictions concern students from Arab countries. While vigilance is required, lawmakers must take care not to discourage international students from studying here.

Foreign students are a great asset to the University, and to universities throughout the country. The students bring fresh ideas and unique views to campus debate, exposing American-born students to an international perspective. Foreign students are also among the University’s most talented researchers. In fact, the recent backlog of visa applications has stunted some University research and forced University departments to scramble for teaching assistants.

In addition to their contributions to campus life, foreign students are a great asset in the war against terrorism. After graduation, many will return to become leaders in their home countries. They will take the ideas and values learned here, and share them at home. As Luis Bartolomei, a University immigration attorney, recently said: “These students will take the flavor they got here and that will affect diplomacy in the future.”

The United States continues to be viewed with contempt around the world. Much of that stems from a misunderstanding of what the United States stands for. In bridging this gap, higher education can play a vital role. America’s colleges and universities should be encouraging foreign students to study here, not closing their doors.