First Thought

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

Colleges are an increasingly critical channel for talented immigrants to the United States, a new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research shows.

The authors, researchers at Harvard and Yale, find that one in five entrepreneurs who start venture-backed companies in the U.S. are immigrants — and of that group, more than three-quarters came to America for college.

Over the past decade — the study looks at trends dating back to 1990 — a greater proportion of founders have come to the U.S. not just for graduate education but to earn undergraduate degrees. Of the study’s sample, 42 percent of immigrant founders came for undergraduate study and 37 percent for graduate programs. Just 22 percent of immigrant entrepreneurs came to the U.S. for work rather than education, the researchers found.

The new research underscores American colleges’ key role as a gateway for global talent, attracting and educating top students.

Read more from Karin in this week’s latitude(s).

The Reading List

  • President Biden signed legislation to combat hate crimes targeting Asians and Pacific Islanders.
  • Colleges have until Friday to join an amicus brief in support of Optional Practical Training in an appeal of a case contesting the legality of the work program for recent international graduates.
  • States and public colleges in California and Massachusetts have dropped lawsuits challenging an Education Department rule that prevented international and undocumented students from receiving pandemic aid after the Biden administration made that policy change.

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“Our mission is to take everything that we learned, every piece of research from the university, and to immediately apply it in the community. It’s not a one-way street; it’s what the community feels it needs.”

—Margee Ensign, the president of Dickinson College who is returning to again lead the American University of Nigeria, on how she sees AUN as a “development university.”

Read Karin Fischer’s interview with Ensign in The Chronicle: “A College President Returns to Lead Where Education Is Imperiled.”