Restoring and improving international education under the Biden administration

“Supporting international education can not only expand the talent pools but diversify them”

Supporting international education can significantly have its economic advantages globally if the US government can help improve the current status, writes principal attorney for the Oak View Law Group, Lyle Solomon.

Some industries need more educated and skilled people within their talent pools, such as STEM. Therefore, supporting international education can not only expand the talent pools but diversify them.

The pandemic caused a severe downturn in international students seeking higher education in the United States and American students studying abroad. Colleges and universities shut down from virus outbreaks and lockdowns, and some students went to their home countries. The new enrolment of international students has declined drastically.

Organisations are now encouraging and awaiting the initiative of the federal government to restabilise international education. Otherwise, colleges and universities risk being compromised.

Reversing Travel Restrictions to Boost International Enrolment

During Trump’s presidency, countless changes to international travel happened, and it directly affected the ability of international students to be enrolled in US colleges and universities. The multiple travel bans and visa restrictions made things much more difficult, and students that made it back home during the pandemic have struggled to make it back.

Many US consulate offices are closed, and many students seeking a visa to attend college in the US need to conduct interviews there to apply for one. The non-profit organisation NAFSA asks the federal government to extend in-person visa interview eligibility and use video calls for interviews. Student visas already take several months to process, and student visa applications are backlogged due to consulate closings.

President Biden has put ease to restrictions set in place during former President Trump’s term in office. If any outbreaks cause campuses to close down, international students can still study online to maintain enrolment.

The ease of restrictions could substantially positively affect some foreign countries. India, for example, has 40,000 students who come to the US to study every year. The academic year 2019-2020 still had over a million international students learn in the US. But there was still a 43% decline in international enrolment that year also.

Travel issues and restrictions are just a portion of the cause behind declining international education. There are academic strategies that have been proposed to help turn global education around.

Strategies for Education Improvement

Government organisations have come forward with proposed solutions or strategies for global education. Universities such as Berkeley have suggestions for boosting international enrolment, as reported by John Douglass, senior researcher for the Center of Studies in Higher Education.

Douglass stated recommendations that included increasing financial resources to receive a subsidised education via grants and scholarships. International students are likely to pay full-price tuition. In addition, international students do not qualify for federal student aid to attend US colleges and universities. This resulted in billions lost by colleges and universities across the country during the pandemic, especially with new enrolment being much more difficult.

Other recommendations include building programs to support the capacity of international enrolment, schools collaborating and having a goal to double international enrolment by the end of the decade. Diversifying international student groups and hiring experienced staff overseeing them getting an education have also been discussed.

The US Department of Education and the US Department of the State announced plans several months ago. Their initiative is to strengthen academic ties internationally so that those coming to the US receive a quality education and American students studying abroad.

Consistent Effort from the Federal Government

Although it is too soon to know if President Biden will serve a second term, the consistency of the decisions made for international education is needed. Travel issues needed to be resolved, and academic strategies were required to be executed. International students can be lucrative to the workforce, and education anywhere in the world should be a fundamental human right.

About the author: Lyle Solomon has considerable litigation experience as well as substantial hands-on knowledge and expertise in legal analysis and writing. Since 2003, he has been a member of the State Bar of California. In 1998, he graduated from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California, and now serves as a principal attorney for the Oak View Law Group in Rocklin, California.