Thursday, April 23, 2009

I worked at an institution of higher education for over two decades, and many of those years were spent processing applications for admission. Back then, my children were approaching college age and I wondered, even if they showed the vaguest interest in attending, how I would ever afford it. I was working fulltime as was my then husband, and the cost at a major university was beyond our reach. With President Obama putting Education at the top of his list, I thought it might be interesting to share some statistics with you.

Although I realize the importance of population diversity, it still reeked of sour lemons to see how many international students took spots to do important research and study on our soil while our clerical people mailed denial letters to those US citizens with promising GPAs and letters of recommendations so our campus could diversify. I always wondered why tax payers children didn't warrant more consideration than a 'thank you for applying, but..."

I also questioned the lack of concern with with paperwork issued to obtain student visas, but it wasn't within my purview to know exactly how things were handled. I just know there were several instances when students were out of status and we wouldn't have known had they not come seeking assistance with the problem. Nothing was really done to track when paperwork expired to force students to depart the United States...especially once they graduated. I expected ICE would monitor that, but 9/11 proved no one was really watching out for those who had stayed beyond the limits of their visas.

In the years following 9/11, I read that international student numbers dropped. It appears from the recent report by the Institute of International Education they have risen again, and I'm always amazed at the numbers. According to IIE's website, 623,805 international students enrolled in the US in 2007/08, which reflects a 7% increase over previous years.

I found this portion of their press release interesting:

"For the seventh consecutive year, Open Doors reports that the University of Southern California hosted the largest number of international students, this year reporting 7,189. New York University moved from third to second place with 6,404 international students, and Columbia University, now in third place, hosted 6,297 international students. Rounding out the top five 2007/08 host institutions are University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (5,933 students) and Purdue University (5,772 students). Open Doors reports that 153 U.S. campuses each hosted more than 1,000 students." (For the lists of top host institutions, see

Ever wonder how they pay for their education?

Primary Source of Funding 2007/08 for International Students:
Personal & Family Funds - $388,821
U.S. College & University - 161,633
Home Gov't or University - 21,085
U.S. Government - 3,282
U.S. Private Sponsor - 6,013
Foreign Private Sponsor - 6,522
International Organization - 1,390
Current Employment - 29,399
Other Sources - 5,660

Total 623,805 (All funding info taken from IIE Website)

When I was handling admissions, the majority of international students coming to our campus had to certify funding for one year. After establishing residency, they became eligible for fellowship/scholarship consideration. In addition, to help them meet the financial constraints imposed to obtain a visa, many (at the Graduate level) were offered 50% teaching or research assistantships which paid quite a hefty chunk for part time work. Research assistants work in the labs under the guidance and funding of grants gained by the professors, while Teaching assistants do a large part of the instruction at the undergraduate level. For many years, we handled complaints about the language differences, until the campus finally imposed a SPEAK test which international students had to pass in order to hold a TA position. So...I wonder how much of the current employment numbers should actually fall under U.S. University funding as those salaries came out of the budget there.

I'm all for helping to educate the world, but I really think our own children should take precedence. In addition, I believe that when we are add odds with a country, all students and visitors on visas should immediately be sent home. Just my thoughts, but hey...I'm retired now. *smile*

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WARNING: I support the office of the President, not the person currently holding it!