“Is Gun Violence Scaring Off International Students?”

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The author of this 10 April 2023 Inside Higher Ed article requested an interview with me because he had read some blog posts and a 2022 University World News article I wrote about gun violence and international student recruitment. The result is one reason why I ask to see a draft, as I often do, not to censor it, but to check for accuracy. It was obvious that his focus was on China and that he was trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Three observations and a reflection:

  1. Liam got my name right but I am not “an independent contractor who recruits international students for Western schools.” I’m the managing director of a full-service educational consulting company that helps young Vietnamese study in a variety of countries, Western and non-Western.
  2. I mentioned other issues that have long been viewed as negatives for the US, including anti-Asian racism, high cost (offset by merit-based scholarships and financial aid for qualified and deserving students), and a broken visa system.
  3. This quote is a paraphrase of what I said in a video chat: “Safety is a selling point for sure, but it’s not a deal breaker for most students or even parents,” Ashwill said. “I find that most families I talk to view it as a kind of cost-benefit analysis, and for most the benefits are still outweighing the risks.” (I would not say “the benefits are still outweighing the risks”but rather “the benefits still outweigh the risks.”

An interesting angle to explore would have been why Vietnam is the exception. Yes, mass shootings and other forces of gun violence are a concern to many Vietnamese students and their parents, but Vietnam still ranks 6th among sending countries with 25,198 students at all levels, mostly higher education, in February 2023. This means that the new normal era recovery is underway and that many young Vietnamese still are still choosing to study in the USA in spite of concerns about personal safety.

Shalom (שלום), MAA

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