As I mentioned in the last post, there are nearly 30,000 Vietnamese (29,788, to be exact) studying in the US at all levels. (Source: Mapping SEVIS by the Numbers, August 2018) Of those, 3,472, or 11.7%, of them are enrolled in boarding and day schools.
While that’s 720 fewer students than in December 2017 (4,192 or 13.2% of the total) , it’s still a significant number that reflects a continued interest in overseas secondary education and a strong ability to pay on the part of many Vietnamese parents.
Not included in the above figure are all of the Vietnamese students enrolled in high school completion programs in Washington state, the academic equivalent of killing two birds with one stone that allows young Vietnamese to simultaneously earn a WA high school diploma and an associate degree. It’s an attractive option for parents who either can’t afford higher cost options such as a boarding school or a high school in the 30k range or who simply prefer that kind of program.
Very sad incident. We should avoid USA for study and employment. -Sanjoy Pandey
Another international student, Sharath Koppu, who arrived in January in the US to begin his Master’s degree in computer science at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has fallen victim to the USA’s endemic gun violence. The above headline was the title of an article that appeared in The Times of India on 8 July 2018. The quote, which was the first comment, sums the reaction of many, be it on a short- or long-term basis.
More young Indians will think twice before choosing the USA as an overseas study destination. The shift to Canada and other countries was already taking place and incidents like these only serve to hasten that process.
Last year, two Garmin engineers, also originally from India, were shot by angry white man yelling “Get out of my country!” One succumbed to his injuries. It doesn’t matter that the latter was a hate crime while the former a murder committed during a robbery. The end result is the same: they’re both DEAD.
Sharath Koppu’s cousin, Raghu Chowdavaram, set up a GoFundMe account that raised $50,832 in three (3) days, $25,000 of that within three (3) hours. Here’s part of what he wrote:
Sharath Koppu is an Indian Computer Engineer who came to the USA in the month of Jan 2018. Sharath is known to his family and friends as full of dreams, cheerful, energetic and athletic. In the pursuit of his dreams, he moved to USA to do his Masters. He had the same dreams like everyone else to make it BIG in the land of opportunity. He had a great sense of humor, and always made people laugh and was always eager to lend a helping hand.
Little did anybody know that life is about to take a big unfortunate turn on a fateful day of July 6th 2018.
The story has been told time and time again. As of two years ago, approximately half of U.S. private companies valued at $1 billion or more (so-called “unicorns”) had founders who came to the U.S. as international students.
Yes, it’s true and I agree 100% BUT my guess is that this and similar arguments fall on deaf ears among the current powers that be because ideologues generally don’t care about logic and facts. The anti-immigrant, nativist crowd only cares about its narrowly-focused agenda, the long-term well-being of their country be damned.
This is a sad reality that the author points out when he mentions the obvious: …this Administration doesn’t seem to care. What’s really scary is that the worst is yet to come. The Administration’s recent actions have led to awful images of immigrant children in cages that have gone viral and global. Before Trump was elected, I predicted that his administration would hasten the decline of the US, as did other much more astute observers of the US political scene. (One important bit of silver lining in all of this – knock on wood – is that the US has yet to invade, occupy, or destroy any other country, aside from the bomb that is dropped every 12 minutes.)
NAFSA: Association of International Educators, which bills itself as “the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange, working to advance policies and practices that ensure a more interconnected, peaceful world today and for generations to come,” is fond of trotting out the old economic contribution argument. In addition to all of the other myriad benefits, both tangible and intrinsic, international students contribute $37 billion to the US economy. What’s not to like and support, right? Most of those in the America First crowd simply don’t care. International students are perceived by some as potential national security risks who will be able to steal economic and other secrets – to the strategic disadvantage of the US. Yeah, right.
It doesn’t matter that previous presidents, e.g., Barack Obama, and presidential candidates, including Donald Trump himself, have spoken out in favor of encouraging a certain percentage of international students to remain in the US for the long term and contribute to its economy and society. (For example, Mitt Romney campaigned six years ago on stapling a green card to the diploma of every international students with a degree in math or one of the sciences.)
Follow the link to read this 28 June 2018 Forbes article in its entirety. The concluding paragraph should whet your appetite:
As we celebrate America’s birthday next week, this issue deserves our full attention, starting with all of us in higher education, and everyone who first came to this country as an international student (of which group I’m a proud member). President Trump has already trashed America’s moral leadership, ostensibly in the name of economic gain. But these developments – both rivals pushing ahead and a reckless disregard of the impact of an isolationist approach to immigration on American higher education and talent – demonstrate that he’s also intent on trashing America’s economic leadership.
The United States’ loss is a gain for Australia, Canada, the UK, and other countries, as I upload this post.
Postscript: Forget about US economic leadership. The USA is, after all, a mortal nation among other nations, in the words of Anatol Lieven. What about remaining economically competitive? What about meeting the basic needs of all of its citizens? Obviously, there’s more to all of this than economic growth. Here’s what happens in a society in which three (3) people own more wealth than 50% of the population: Almost half of US families can’t afford basics like rent and food (18.5.18)
This matter-of-fact assertion does not (and should not) come as a surprise to US colleagues who recruit internationally. Here’s a recent story that inspired this post, so to speak, plus a heartfelt appeal.
I noticed that a number of students had applied to, been admitted by, and received visas to attend a particular school in the US. This interest was the result of a couple of public events and, of course, what the school has to offer, including solid academics and attractive scholarships for qualified and deserving students.
Amazingly, there would have been one more student but she withdrew her application because of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on 14 February 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Her parents decided not to send her to study in the US. (Maybe the USA’s loss is Canada’s gain, in this case?) So, yes, safety, as an essential element of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, is a primary concern among parents, as it is for all of us. The writing is on the recruitment wall and those of us who help international students study in the US ignore it at our collective peril.
While the number of young Vietnamese studying in the US is still healthy, these cases give one pause. You might say that this one student is insignificant because there were 31,613 Vietnamese students in the US, as of March 2018, but there are signs that others are following suit. For example, there are about 15,000 Vietnamese students in Canada, nearly half as many as there are in the US, a country with nine times the population and thousands more educational institutions.
Remarkably, Vietnamese students had the highest percentage increase in 2017 at 89%, making Viet Nam the fastest growing market in the country. Canada is now a top five host country for Vietnamese students, after Japan, the USA, and Australia, followed by China.
While US education, both secondary and postsecondary, is still a brand, it no longer sells itself. Current news, e.g., the mass shooting du jour, a relatively high student visa denial rate, the latest policy announcement to require social media information from all visa applicants for the past five (5) years, the latest missile strike, and a roiling cauldron of perceptions (and misperceptions) can have a decisive impact on where a young person studies.
Do You Have Any I HEART Vietnamese Students Stories?
I’ve heard stories from many colleagues about how much they value and appreciate Vietnamese students, not only for the financial contributions they make to their host institution and the communities in which they are located, but their academic performance, their integration into the campus community, their leadership qualities, and their positive attitude.
I would like ask those of you who have worked with Vietnamese students and have such a story share it with me in a 750-word essay, including photos and quotes, if possible. I will take some of these essays and incorporate material into an article about Vietnamese students. I would also like to translate some into Vietnamese and share them widely. By doing this, you will be helping to promote study in the USA in Viet Nam and, indirectly, promoting your institution. Now more than ever is the time to show them (more) love.
Please contact me at markashwill[AT]capstonevietnam.com, if you’re interested in contributing an essay.
This was the original title of my latest University World News article. Why? Because overseas study is not a zero-sum game or a black & white issue but rather a complex and technicolor phenomenon with many different forces at work, including push and pull factors.
While it’s true that growing numbers of Vietnamese student are choosing Canada as an overseas study destination for the reasons I mention in the article, the USA remains a top destination, along with Australia and the UK, among the English-speaking countries. The top six (6) leading host countries for Vietnamese students are Japan, the USA, Australia, Canada, China, and the UK.
In the latest SEVIS by the Numbers update in March 2018, only two (2) among the top 10 sending countries recorded an increase in the number of students studying in the US: Brazil and Viet Nam. The other eight (8) saw decreases ranging from 4.43% to .28%. Brazil jumped two places from 9th to 7th. Taiwan surpassed Japan to take 8th place because its enrollment decrease was less than that of Japan, which slipped to 9th place. The downward trend continued for Saudi Arabia and Mexico.
Viet Nam, with a nominal increase of 224 students (.71%), is treading water, statistically speaking. The most notable increases and decreases among Vietnamese students were for secondary schools, i.e., boarding and day (from 4,129 or 13.2% to 4,448 or 14.1%), and language training (from 2,754 or 8.5% to 2,398 or 7.6%), respectively.
Since I’ve heard of modest decreases in Vietnamese visa applications across-the-board, including student visas, I don’t expect this situation to change between March and the end of the fiscal year. What happens this summer, the peak season for F-1 issuances, will tell the story for this year. Stay tuned.
Keep in mind that probably about 9% of the F-1 Vietnamese higher education enrollment is for the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, based on IIE Open Doors 2017 data, meaning these are recent graduates who are currently working.
And I do mean busine$$. Yes, this is the same national accrediting organizing that was “derecognized” by the US Department of Education during the last few months of the Obama administration, a decision that stood until a couple of weeks ago. Speaking of which, I was writing an email to a colleague about a previously Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)-accredited institution in California that was shut down. In that email I mentioned that ACICS was going the way of the dinosaur. Before hitting send, I decided to take a take a peek at its website. Lo and behold, I saw this Message to Membership! in bold: Secretary of Education Orders Restoration of ACICS as a Federally Recognized Accrediting Agency as of December 2016 and Outlines Next Steps in the Compliance Review Process.
Someone at ACICS, or probably one of its more influential supporters, put a bee in someone else’s bonnet, presumably someone in a position of power and, voilà, new life was breathed into ACICS. (This NYT article from 1 April 2018 delves into some of this: It Oversaw For-Profit Colleges That Imploded. Now It Seeks a Comeback.) This has many implications, including the fact that all of the ACICS-accredited institutions that had to find new institutional accreditation by this June are suddenly off the hook. It’s a happy day in National Accreditation Land.
What a relief for ACICS and its accredited schools. What terrible news for those of us who value quality US higher education and are concerned about substandard institutions cashing in on the cachet of US education and, some cases, tarnishing its generally sterling reputation. The half-full part of me was hoping that the Trump administration would overlook this tiny corner of US higher education and that there would be some justice, at least in this case. But it was not meant to be, not with the likes of Trump and Betsy “Amway” DeVos calling the shots. There’s simply too much money at stake. And money, after all, is what drives key decisions in an oligarchy.
Keep in mind that this is the same ACICS that fell asleep at the wheel and allowed not-so-stellar universities like Northwestern Polytechnic University (NPU) to exist. It was because of the crack investigative reporting of Buzzfeed that the public, including a certain US senator from Connecticut, learned of this visa mill. That’s when the shit really hit the fan.
Then there was the great Silicon Valley University (SVU), another visa mill, also in northern California, that has been in the news, often in tandem with NPU. Both were ACICS-accredited and both were family businesses masquerading as nonprofits. (SVU had its accreditation revoked last December and NPU is accredited through 31.12.18, for what that’s worth.) In both cases, no one was minding the shop.
How is ACICS rewarded for this egregious lack of oversight? Allowed to continue with business as usual, which reminds me of this 2017 Bill Maher editorial. I’m waiting for the next shoe to drop.