Do American Universities Draw International Talent?

Higher education is an important point of discussion within American intellectual circles. Higher education is more expensive than in the past and some have questioned its ability to produce students that can effectively fill positions and compete globally. The very nature of competition has moved from domestic to international as companies now must sell and interact in a more complex market. A paper by Garcia and de Lourdes Villarreal discusses international students and the slowing down of the ability to attract those students to foster greater learning and higher revenue in higher education (2014). 

International students make decisions to frequent the United States based on a whole range of issues related to opportunities, prestige, international competitiveness, ease of entry, cost, etc… Like the purchase of any other product or service the personal and social cost can be extensive for these students and there are many different options and alternatives.

Some of the costs students face includes leaving their families behind, paying in cash, restricted visas due to the Patriot Act, English as an international business language, and the type of programs a university offers. These are significant considerations and countries that can ease the process of attending higher education may find themselves as a draw for future highly skilled employees.

Many countries don’t have the same breadth of programs the U.S. maintains. They are limited in terms of not only the type of programs offered but also the ability to attend higher education based upon high demand and low supply. At other times, countries are inherently discriminatory to minorities and bar them from achieving a competitive degree.

International students not only raise the learning level and international competitiveness of domestic graduates but also pay their tuition in cash making them attractive to school administrators. International students are one way in which higher education budget short-falls can be improved while avoiding cutting education quality.

When successful international students are recruited by local companies and are retained within the country they add to the intellectual capital of the nation and encourage greater economic growth. Their knowledge and skill of international markets can be applied to greater business growth and economic development.

The report doesn’t move into online education and is primarily focused on ground based institutions. International online education is an exportable product that can be a cheaper option for many students who must make choices to travel and leave their home countries. As online education raises in value and prestige it offers an alternative for those who seek to stay home while obtaining a quality American degree. Naturally, ground based universities will attract students interested in laboratory research but other degrees can be equally competitive with much less personal, financial, and social costs to the student. These students will help raise domestic intellectual capacity and may become prime recruitment targets of international firms due to their mastery of the English language and familiarity with American education. 

Garcia, H. & de Lourdes Villarreal, M (2014). The redirecting of international students: American higher education policy hindrances and implications. Journal of International Students, 4 (2).


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