More international students study in U.S.

The United States should always be a place that welcomes the brightest minds on earth.

A survey released by the Institute of International Education has shown that the number of new international students studying in America has increased this year. This marks the first increase since the terrorist attacks of September 11.

It’s a welcomed departure from the previous trend. After the attacks, our nation tightened its borders, keeping some of the world’s brightest from studying here. Lawmakers passed the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2002, revamping the immigration policy as it pertained to student visas. The law mandated intense tracking of foreign student visas and imposed severe penalties on institutions if they didn’t comply with specific guidelines. Educators lobbied against the changes for this reason, but, in the delirium that followed the attacks, few listened. And, as expected, the law resulted in fewer student visas and less foreign students studying in the United States.

The trend of decreasing foreign students was corrected by the easing of these restrictions and also by the increased recruiting efforts of colleges and universities. Many found that in the wake of September 11, America wasn’t the most attractive place to study anymore. Foreign and domestic policy shifts combined to diminish America’s perspective in the minds of international students looking to study abroad. This opened the door for countries like Britain and Australia to pick up more students.

The University of Minnesota has engaged in recruiting efforts, most notably the Chinese Center. It serves to facilitate student exchange between our two countries. This is in large part why Chinese students make up the largest portion of our international student population. It is hoped that more efforts like these will continue to make our campus culturally diverse and give depth to our classrooms.

Despite the fact that the number of international students studying at the University dipped this semester, we’re on the right track. The nation as a whole has reversed this trend and it bodes well for not only the health of our institutions, but for our nation as well. The United States should always be a place that welcomes the brightest minds on earth.