If it was a normal year, I would be writing about college as a place to expand your horizons, meet new friends and, perhaps, experiment sexually. Alas, with Covid-19 intruding in just about any aspect of our lives, I have to keep covering its harmful influence. Guess what? The pandemic has done what even our bigoted man-child president couldn’t do. It has drastically reduced the influx of international students in the US.
In normal times, our country admits over one million students from other countries. However, amid the pandemic, the influx of aspiring learners is on a halt. What it means for you as an international student and other implications of the decreased enrollment will be discussed in my article.
What Does Pandemic Mean for International Students?
According to a report issued by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE, 2020), the previous year has seen 1.52 million active applications for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). The overwhelming majority of international students – 86% – seek higher education, which equates to 1.3 million (ICE, 2020). When it comes to the total number of students in the country, the international learners account for 5.5% and contribute approximately 45 billion to the country’s economy (Varadharajan, 2020).
To understand what’s in store for international students, I have turned to the open letter by the American council on education. According to it, the enrollment for the next academic year is expected to decrease by a whopping 15% for US citizens and 25% for foreign students (Varadharajan, 2020). Clearly, our educational system will suffer greatly from the Covid-19 paralysis, speaking nothing of the millions of individuals affected by the lockdowns.
I cannot stand aside from the issue so underrepresented in our 24-hours news cycle. Why has the problem received so little media light? It’s simple, if you ask me. For years, our ruling politicians have waged a vicious assault on immigrants of all stars and stripes. Just to twist the knife a little, the international students have been hit with the pandemic, which has also stolen the limelight from their plight. Their problem merits our concern precisely because everyone else is insulated from it. Our citizens are blissfully ignorant of the challenge, which is why I urge you to share this article in earnest. Knowing how passionate my audience is, I’m truly hopeful for change.
How Does Pandemic Target the Country?
The pandemic directly affects US colleges and universities – that much is clear. What remains to be established are the stakes for the country at large. Let’s start with the lockdown’s impact on innovation. When the presence of international students falls in sciences and engineering, the number of technological breakthroughs rapidly diminishes. Reporting for Inventia, Varadharajan (2020) states that a ten percent increase in the international enrollment accounts for a 6.8% increase in patent grants.
Another impact of diminished enrollment is unemployment. International students help to create over 400,000 jobs. These include education, retail, hospitality, and transportation, just to name a few sectors of the US economy. It means that in addition to the tuition loss, our country will experience a sizeable financial hit.
Finally, a fact that is not to be dismissed is that international students participate in temporary employment and, upon graduation, a permanent one. The US workforce will be severely damaged by the lack of highly-educated grads who are willing to contribute to the country’s development. As if Covid-19 was not hitting hard enough, the Trump administration offered its malicious contribution. In the coming year, the optional practical training (OPT) program allowing international students to work is slated for the discontinuation. It is argued that the end of the program could cost the US economy around half a million jobs (Varadharajan, 2020). That’s the bill we have to foot for allowing to elect a bumbling buffoon to the highest office in the country.
Is There Hope?
Is there a way out of this mess? To put it plainly: it is well within the grasp of the US government to offer a feasible solution to the problem. It’s the least it could do for aspiring individuals who seek higher education for the purpose of improving their communities. So, given how little has been done to ameliorate the crisis, I can clearly smell the ineptitude and outright cruelty in the air. If this keeps up, our colleges will face a dire diversity challenge, the consequences of which are hard to predict.
With Covid-19 cases still high, there’s no saying how exactly the international enrollment might be affected. Until the government decides to step up, we’ve got to work together to contain the corrosive spread of the virus and provide writing help online. If not for our own sake, then for the sake of students whose fate is linked with our willingness and ability to invite them in our institutions of higher learning.