Sabotaging a top U.S. export
The Washington Post
In President Trump’s “zero-sum view of the world,” trade surpluses are everything, said Catherine Rampell. Why, then, does he seem “hell-bent on destroying one of our winningest exports: higher education”? The U.S. hosts more international students than any other country in the world. Foreign students spent $39.4 billion on U.S. educational services in 2016, compared with the $7.5 billion Americans forked out on education overseas. That educational trade surplus of nearly $32 billion is close to our surplus in civilian aircraft, and yet doesn’t even include what foreign students spend here on food, housing, and consumer goods. And because students from overseas often pay double or even triple the tuition of their in-state peers, they “typically subsidize” American students, especially at cash-strapped public universities. But international enrollment, after climbing for decades, fell 4 percent last fall, to just under 809,000. The top reasons for not enrolling, according to a recent survey, were “feeling unwelcome in the United States” and visa issues. Trump’s policies, including his effort to sharply curtail the ability of international students to work here after graduation, are also deterring foreign students. Higher education is a thriving, profitable export center. But if we’re not careful, it won’t be for long.