Record High Foreign-Born College Enrollment Spells Bad News for U.S. Kids

By Joe Guzzardi
November 15, 2013

For high school students aspiring to attend college, the recent Institute of International Education (IIE) report represents a ton of bad news. During the 2012-2013 academic year, foreign-born enrollment at American colleges increased by a record 819,644 students. Those seats represent 819,644 opportunities denied to hard-working U.S. kids whose parents urged them to excel and sacrificed to bring up them as responsible young adults.

In 1955 the total foreign-born enrollment was 34,000. Since then, it’s increased every decade. Because school administrators prefer the full out-of-state tuition and the diversity that overseas students represent, no end is in sight.

For this year’s graduating high school class, competing with foreign-born pupils adds another hurdle to their already daunting challenge of college admission. Tuition has steadily climbed, often to levels beyond middle class families’ reach. This year, costs at the nation’s public colleges rose 2.09 percent, the smallest annual increase in more than three decades. Other related expenses have also climbed: room, board, books and transportation.

An in-depth look at the IIE Open Doors summary raises eyebrows. China, for example, sent 237,000, the largest total. In July, the U.S. trade deficit with China topped $30 billion. According to the Economic Policy Institute, from 2001 through 2011, the growing deficit with China resulted in 2.7 million lost American jobs. Providing a top notch American education to our economic and political rivals is, at best, foolish.

Other sending countries like Saudi Arabia (45,000 students, a 30 percent increase) are known to have anti-American leanings. Giving student visas to foreign nationals from countries known to harbor terrorists shows poor judgment and is a risk not worth taking.

International students’ second favorite destination, behind the University of Southern California, is the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a land grant school established in 1867 and funded to educate state residents, not students from half way around the world.

Although the overseas students should not, except in exceptional cases, displace Americans, some are academically qualified. However, many aren’t. A Time Magazine exposé revealed that in 2010, 8 out of every 10 Chinese undergraduate students used an agent to file their applications. Because the agents are paid to place each student, cheating is rampant. Estimates are that 90 percent of Chinese students fake recommendation letters, 70 percent of college application essays are ghost written, and 50 percent of high school transcripts are falsified. In a shocking conflict of interest, some American universities also have contracts with agents that guarantee them a commission for each student enrolled.

Enrolling an ever-increasing number of foreign-born has disturbing long term consequences. Some will change their immigration status from student, officially a non-immigrant category, to permanent legal resident. Once permanently in the U.S., he’ll enter the shrinking job market and compete with Americans. Then, when he eventually becomes a citizen, he’ll petition his relatives which in turn will needlessly increase U.S. population as well as put environmental pressure on scarce resources.

The current system needs a complete overhaul that would include restricting student visas and developing an exit system that insures that once foreign-born students graduate or otherwise end their educations, they return home. Incoming freshman seats are fixed; worthy U.S. kids deserve the first shot at them.

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Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1987. Contact him at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org

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