International Student Inclusion and Success: Public Attitudes, Policy Imperatives, and Practical Strategies

According to the results of a survey conducted by Robin Matross Helms and Sarah Spreitzer on behalf of the American Council on Education (ACE), The American public has high expectations for international student success. They recognize international students’ academic, cultural, scientific, and economic contributions as vital members of their communities—on campus, locally, nationally, and globally—both while students are enrolled and when they graduate and enter the workforce. While on the whole, positive sentiment toward international students is greater than the negative opinions, respondents expressed some concern about perceived risks to national security.

The positive outweighs the negative, which is good news. For example,

—About two-thirds (68%) of respondents agree that “American college students benefit
when they have close and regular contact with students from other countries.” (That percentage was 60% in 2017, the year Donald Trump took office, and 66% two years later. As with some of the other findings, it’s clear that there’s a need for more education about the benefits of hosting international students.)

—Looking at the broader learning environment for all students, 58% of respondents indicated
they believe that “international students are valuable additions to campuses because they bring
intellectual talent and energy to campuses.”

—On the diplomatic front, 64% of respondents agree that “encouraging students from other
countries to come to the U.S. to attend college or university promotes international goodwill.”

—Respondents also see national- and global-level contributions by international students when it
comes to science and research. 59% believe that “international students and graduates
play an important role in generating research and knowledge in this country, such as in the
development of new vaccines and cures for diseases like the coronavirus.”

Other positive responses include the perception that international students’ academic qualifications and preparedness are superior to those of their US peers. 57% believe that “most international students are better prepared for college than American students. This percentage increased from 2019.

On the other hand, a significant percentage of those surveyed (43%) still believe that “students from
other countries take places in U.S. colleges and universities that would have gone to students in the
U.S.” This is a misperception that US international educators have been battling against for years. Higher education admission is not a zero-sum game.

The report also touches on the financial benefits of hosting large numbers of international students, not the only justification but an important one.

Follow this link to download the entire 29-pp (PDF) report.

Shalom (שלום), MAA

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