Tech licenses short sighted

Yet another restriction could steer away talented international students.

As if international students weren’t restricted enough, they might have to jump through one more hoop to study at the University.

The U.S. Department of Commerce is proposing that international students from “countries of concern” should apply for export licenses to use certain technology that doubles for civilian and military use. Such technology includes microscopes and basic computer software. Students who wish to study in fields such as mathematics or civil, mechanical, or nuclear engineering – if they are from China, Cuba, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Sudan or Syria – could be forced to apply for hundreds of licenses during their college career.

This is yet another restriction on international students that could steer away talent and research from U.S. universities. Being that University President Bob Bruininks wants the University to become a top-three research institution, further restrictions on international students could prevent that from happening.

To get a visa, students must be reviewed by the FBI, the CIA and Homeland Security. But under the new Commerce Department proposal, students would undergo a grueling application process. The process includes an investigation of a student’s citizenship and studies. Also detailed is a meticulous explanation of what technology and software will be used during the studies and whether the technology is available for use abroad. Among other regulations, the fee is $1 per student, per application. The University currently has 121 students from the “countries of concern” who are studying math and civil or mechanical engineering. For those students alone, this new law could make their quest for knowledge more trouble than it’s worth.

If it’s made a law, this regulation could create a divide among international students on campus. It suggests that students from certain countries are more likely threats. Though students studying science and technology in the United States have taken part in terrorist activities around the world, an unnecessary application process is not the answer. The Commerce Department should rethink its strategy, because it would do more harm than good.