Chi­nese stu­dents com­ing to US worry about jobs

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA -

Some Chi­nese stu­dents com­ing to the US for higher ed­u­ca­tion this fall say their ma­jor con­cerns are post­grad­u­a­tion em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and ob­tain­ing a visa, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey by the In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion (IIE).

The sur­vey re­leased on July 6 is based on re­sponses from 165 col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties, where ad­mis­sions of­fi­cers were asked to an­swer a se­ries of sur­vey ques­tions based on con­cerns ex­pressed by stu­dents and yield rate, the per­cent­age who ac­cept an of­fer of ad­mis­sion for the fall.

The sur­vey’s re­sults also re­ported a 2 per­cent de­cline in ad­mis­sions of­fers made to Chi­nese stu­dents and a slight drop in the yield rate from 25 per­cent to 23 per­cent, a dip that’s on par with a de­cline in the over­all in­ter­na­tional stu­dent yield rate from 30 to 28 per­cent.

“A 2 per­cent drop in ad­mis­sions yield means Chi­nese stu­dents are choos­ing to study in the US at rates largely un­changed from last year,” said Ra­jika Bhan­dari, the head of Re­search, Pol­icy and Prac­tice at IIE.

“Our find­ings show that 27 per­cent ad­mit­ted Chi­nese stu­dents this year are con­cerned with post­grad­u­a­tion em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties,” said Bhan­dari.

“It’s the first time we did a sur­vey about con­cerns of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents at­tend­ing US schools,” Bhan­dari said. “This year, there are many con­cerns among stu­dents and ed­u­ca­tors about the ef­fect of Trump’s im­mi­grant poli­cies.”

She said Chi­nese stu­dents are es­pe­cially wor­ried about the prospects of post­grad­u­ate school em­ploy­ment un­der op­tional prac­ti­cal train­ing (OPT) and H-1B visa pro­grams, which many in­ter­na­tional stu­dents use as a path­way to work in the US. They are con­cerned that the pro­grams might be changed be­cause of the in­flu­ence of de­bates over visa and im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

In April, Trump or­dered a re­view of the US visa pro­grams, say­ing “we are go­ing to pro­tect our work­ers, de­fend our jobs and fi­nally put Amer­ica first” in a speech in Kenosha, Wis­con­sin.

“I feel un­cer­tainty about what changes the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will pro­pose for the H-1B visa pro­grams,” said Guo Zi­hao, an un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dent at the Univer­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Bei­jing, who will at­tend Carnegie Mel­lon Univer­sity this fall. “It will make finding jobs more dif­fi­cult for us in the US.”

“But I still think it’s im­por­tant for stu­dents in my ma­jor, ma­te­rial sci­ence, to study in the US to be at the fore­front of tech­nol­ogy,” Guo said in the sur­vey.

“My pri­mary con­cern is about the OPT ex­ten­sion pe­riod,” said Hao Tianyu, a grad­u­ate stu­dent at Stevens In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, ma­jor­ing in busi­ness in­tel­li­gence and an­a­lyt­ics. He said his ma­jor is un­der the cat­e­gory of sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing, and math­e­mat­ics (STEM) de­grees, which al­lows him to ex­tend his OPT from 12 months to 36 months.

“If they abol­ish the STEM OPT, it will be a dis­as­ter for stu­dents ma­jored in these fields who want to find a job af­ter they grad­u­ate,” said Hao in the sur­vey.

He also said he would con­sider com­pa­nies that spon­sor H-1B visa over other fac­tors when he grad­u­ates next year.

In the last decade, the to­tal num­ber of Chi­nese stu­dents in the US has in­creased five­fold. Nearly 330,000 Chi­nese stu­dents were en­rolled in schools dur­ing the 2015-16 aca­demic year, ranked first among all in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, ac­cord­ing to the IIE.

Cur­rently, in­ter­na­tional stu­dents en­ter the US on F1 visas and can stay as long as they have a valid 1-20 doc­u­ment is­sued by the univer­sity. But the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity said it was con­sid­er­ing a pro­posal un­der which stu­dents will be re­quired to reap­ply for per­mis­sion to stay in the US ev­ery year, ac­cord­ing to The Washington Post.

I feel un­cer­tainty about what changes the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will pro­pose for the H-1B visa pro­grams.” Guo Zi­hao, Chi­nese stu­dent head­ing to Carnegie Mel­lon

Ruinan Zhang in New York contributed to this story.

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