The University may face a considerable
setback in its mission to foster a diverse campus community if the
number of international student applications the University
receives continues declining. Applications from international
students are down 12 percent this year. While applications are down
across the board, stricter U.S. security regulations and an
increasingly complicated immigration and visa process since the
Sept. 11 attacks have likely contributed to the decline.
International students are now taking their talents and unique
perspectives elsewhere, seeking their education in other
international locales, particularly in European countries with
fewer entry limitations. These students are also now burdened with
concerns beyond simply obtaining visas that will allow them to
attend American universities; many must decide whether they can
risk going home during vacations for fear they will not be allowed
back into the United States again. New immigration and visa
policies since Sept. 11 make it more difficult for students from
Muslim or Arab countries in particular, as they are subject to
greater scrutiny and potential complications. These changes have
increased anxiety among international students, which may deter
future students from enrolling at the University. While it is
important to enact vigilant policies to prevent future terrorist
attacks, the University must be proactive to ensure that caution
does not trump educational excellence.
After recently battling in the U.S. Supreme Court in order to
continue using affirmative action to maintain a diverse student
body, there can be no doubt that the University is committed to
broadening the range of ideas and perspectives found on campus.
While many students opt to study abroad during their college years,
international students provide a consistent opportunity to interact
with other cultures and understand the dynamics between the United
States and other nations.
Graduate students account for a substantial portion of
international student enrollment. Their research and knowledge are
critical components of the studies that have made the University so
world-renowned, and their roles as instructors provide students
with unique perspectives on their studies.
The International Center is working to address these challenges
to the best of its ability and must be given more resources to
aggressively tackle the declining international admissions. The
process for entering the country may be frustrating and cause
apprehension, but the University administration and students must
work to alleviate these concerns. Bolstering the support system for
international students is essential to keeping the campus a rich,
innovative learning environment for every student.