First Thought

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

Without question, the Open Doors international-enrollment report, released this week, has gloomy news for colleges: The number of international students on American campuses decreased in fall 2019, dropping 2 percent. While that share isn’t large, consider this — in seven decades of Open Doors data, international enrollments have fallen only five times, almost all in the years immediately following the September 11 terror attacks.

2020 will certainly be a sixth. An accompanying snapshot survey of more than 700 colleges found international enrollments this fall contracted 16 percent amid the pandemic. The number of new international students plummeted 43 percent.

These trends shouldn’t just trouble colleges. They should be a gut check for the cities, states, and communities where they are located. Karin explains why in this week’s latitude(s).

The Reading List

  • A new study from the Institute of International Education found that since 2016 the number of students on F-1 visas at American high schools has decreased by 15 percent.
  • The U.S. Department of Education is threatening to withhold Title IV federal-student aid funds from colleges that it says fail to comply with requirements for reporting gifts and contracts from foreign sources.
  • A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration must allow new applicants to the DACA program, invalidating efforts to narrow the program for young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

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