US education groups seek Biden’s intervention to open borders for international students


In the world of COVID-19, where schools and colleges have become home-bound, many educational institutions that profited from foreign students are facing a stark future.

As many countries are still suffering from the pandemic, the universities and colleges have now turned to the White House to shore up a besieged visa process to bring those lucrative students back, a media report said.

Countries like India and China were few of the top countries sending thousands of students for higher studies each year. However, things are very different this year. These international students who often pay their huge tuition fees in full, helped the universities thrive. But now the flow has stopped as international borders have been closed, a Xinhua news agency quoted the Politico news report as saying on Saturday, May 29.

Now several education groups are looking at President Joe Biden to restore it.

American colleges and universities lost billions of dollars when the pandemic scattered their students and turned off new applicants, said the report.

Now, “their fall semesters are still uncertain as they don’t know yet how much international student enrolment, they can get amid a Covid-rattled US bureaucracy”, it said.

“When you add in other factors of community development, they’re innovators and creators, it could be quite a disaster long term if they can’t get in,” Elizabeth Goss, a Boston-based immigration attorney who specializes in obtaining student visas, was quoted as saying by Politico.

Nearly 1.1 million foreign students attended college in the US in the 2019-2020 academic year, according to the Institute of International Education, an organization that tracks their enrolment.

“While education groups say it’s too soon to predict what fall enrolment will look like, last fall’s 43 percent plunge in new international student enrolment has advocates for those students concerned about the coming semester,” said the Politico news report.

A recent Moody’s analysis stated that last year’s decline in international students is likely to hurt university finances for “several years”.

Enrolment will likely rebound for the fall, but “be slowed by travel restrictions, lingering sourness from the Trump administration’s immigration policies and increased competition from other countries”, it added.

Biden has eased Trump-era travel bans and will allow students on visas to study online if campuses close for Covid-19 outbreaks, but higher education advocates are urging him to loosen restrictions around student visas to ease the process of getting to the US, the Politico news report noted.