The ACE2019 session “International Students: Institutional Strategies in Difficult Times” examined the downward trend in new international enrollment in U.S. higher education institutions, and how institutions are working to address these trends.
The panel included Rajika Bhandari, senior advisor for research and strategy at the Institute of International Education (IIE); Timothy L. Killeen, president of the University of Illinois System; Edward Ramotowksi, deputy assistant secretary of state at the U.S. Department of State; and Brian J.R. Stevenson, president and CEO for university partnerships, North America, Navitas.
Bhandari discussed IIE’s 2018 Open Doors report, which showed growth in overall international student enrollment but a downturn in new international student enrollment, especially for graduate students in the STEM fields. Ramotowski stated that the Trump administration and the State Department recognize the importance of international students and understand that international exchanges encourage goodwill. The deputy assistant secretary also said the State Department prioritizes processing for international student visas, but they always encourage students to apply early. He also talked about national security issues in reviewing visa applications and said State and the Department of Homeland Security take those responsibilities very seriously.
The discussion with the audience focused on what institutions are doing to recruit international students and whether or not they have seen downturns in their own enrollment.