International Students Elevate Universities and America

Image Courtesy of The White House | Flickr

Tomas Palpallatoc

It was recently revealed that the Trump administration briefly considered banning visas for Chinese students under the pretense of suspecting them to be spies. This wouldn’t be the first time the Trump administration has espoused an anti-immigrant rhetoric, and is just another mark in his long line of suspicions against China. However, the assumption that the majority of Chinese international students are spies is that of a conspiracy theorist.

As of 2017, there were more than 350,000 reported Chinese university students studying in the United States, with that number growing every year. The 2017-2018 UCSB campus report states that eight percent of undergraduate students and 35 percent of graduate students are foreign citizens, totaling almost 3,000 students.

According to the report, 71 percent of those international students come from China, making Chinese international students a significant part of UCSB’s student body. With hundreds of Chinese international students arriving at UCSB each year, banning these students would adversely affect the school.

Part of UCSB’s mission is being “committed to global leadership for sustainability through education, research, and action.” These international students provide diversity and allow the university to grow, introducing new perspectives not only to its research, but also the growing minds of its students as well.

International students have  made an impact on not only at UCSB, but also the United States as a whole. International students often choose to pursue degrees in extremely competitive fields such as engineering, business, and computer science. International students also have a much higher rate of going on to graduate school after their first four years at college.

Bringing higher achieving students into the American university system stimulates the universities they attend. Many of the UC’s, for example, are research institutions. These institutions thrive off of the ideas and hard work of their students assisting or participating in research. The higher level of skill and dedication that international students bring with them can greatly improve these schools and their research.

Evenly purely in economic terms, international students serve the United States well. In 2016, the United States gained approximately $32.8 billion from international students alone. This money goes into the universities attended, allowing them to grow and become better learning centers for international and American students alike.

A lot of this motivation seems to come from the struggle it takes to actually study in the U.S. If an international student is going to go through the trouble to apply for a visa, receive one, and pay money to fly halfway across the world, it seems logical that they would be more inclined to work their hardest once they are settled in their new country.

Besides the benefits of bringing their high academic performance to the United States, international students also provide meaningful insight about other ways of life to American students. For example, at my old school the student body had a large amount of international students, mostly from China.

Within the school, they helped establish multiple Asian cultural clubs and introduced many students to new outlooks and traditions. The opportunity to share the unique experiences that come from growing up in completely different places is one I continue to treasure.

Frankly, to punish an entire group of people simply out of suspicion is cruel and unfair. Many international students come to America to pursue a dream they can’t achieve elsewhere. They come to experience a different culture and bring their own to share with the rest of us. International students have been coming to America for decades and many have found a permanent life here. To bar them now would not only be a disservice to them, but to America as well.