First Thought

Insights drawn weekly from Karin Fischer’s global-education newsletter, latitude(s). Subscribe here.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a new policy that would require any Chinese diplomat to get U.S.-government permission before setting foot on an American college campus. And he reiterated concerns raised in a State Department letter to college governing boards, warning them of the “threats the Chinese Communist Party poses to academic freedom, to human rights, and to university endowments.”

The secretary’s remarks seemed part and parcel of the Trump administration’s tough-on-China strategy. But American colleges are not alone in being pulled into geopolitical tensions with China. Universities and researchers in India and Australia are also finding themselves caught up in fraying relations with the nation. Karin explains how in this week’s latitude(s).

The Reading List


  • The American College Health Association has singled out international students as a campus population that has been disproportionately affected by the the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it would reject all new DACA applications. A group of young undocumented immigrants filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s efforts to scale back the program.
  • Just-released data shows a small pre-pandemic decline, of 1.7 percent, in student-visa numbers in the U.S. in 2019.

Featured on Chronicle.com

“Just as we had a get-on-the-China-bandwagon movement, now will we have a rush to get off?”

—James A. Millward, a China scholar at Georgetown University, reacts to the Trump administration’s increasingly aggressive posture toward China, which has had major implications for American higher education.

Read Karin Fischer’s full Chronicle story: U.S. Turns Up Heat on Colleges’ Foreign Ties

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