U.S. col­leges tell over­seas stu­dents: You are safe here

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - COLLIN BINK­LEY

On a trip to In­dia, the pres­i­dent of Port­land State Univer­sity re­as­sured prospec­tive stu­dents they’d be safe on his cam­pus.

Pur­due Univer­sity sent over­seas ap­pli­cants a note from two may­ors tout­ing In­di­ana’s “friendly smiles” and hos­pi­tal­ity.

And dozens of other schools pro­duced on­line videos to wel­come for­eign stu­dents.

As U.S. col­leges face new but sig­nif­i­cant de­clines in ap­pli­ca­tions from abroad, many are rolling out mar­ket­ing ef­forts to com­bat fears of ha­rass­ment and con­cerns that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s stance on im­mi­gra­tion re­flects a United States that is be­com­ing less wel­com­ing to for­eign­ers.

“Stu­dents are telling us that they don’t feel safe here in the United States. That they’re con­cerned about dis­crim­i­na­tion, racism,” said Katharine Johnson Suski, ad­mis­sions di­rec­tor at Iowa State Univer­sity.

Some schools have come to rely on rev­enue from for­eign stu­dents, whose en­rol­ment has climbed sharply over much of the past decade, ac­cord­ing to fed­eral data.

But there is ev­i­dence en­rol­ment fig­ures at some schools could drop next fall. Nearly half the na­tion’s 25 largest public uni­ver­si­ties saw un­der­grad­u­ate ap­pli­ca­tions from abroad fall or stag­nate since last year, ac­cord­ing to data col­leges pro­vided.

Safety con­cerns are noth­ing new among in­ter­na­tional stu­dents.

But some stu­dents have said Trump’s “Amer­ica first” rhetoric and his pro­posal to ban im­mi­gra­tion from six ma­jor­ity-Mus­lim na­tions have given them pause. Some ap­pli­ca­tion dead­lines fell be­fore the election, but even Trump’s cam­paign rhetoric cast doubts, ex­perts say.

Along with In­dia, fewer ap­pli­ca­tions have been com­ing from China and Saudi Ara­bia, which pre­vi­ously sent large num­bers to Amer­i­can col­leges. Some ex­perts have blamed the down­turn on a “Trump ef­fect.”

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