Why do University Presidents Want More U.S. Jobs to go to Their Foreign Student Graduates?

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The July 4th edition of the University of North Carolina student newspaper reports that, “A hundred university leaders signed a letter demanding a streamlined immigration process for international graduating students in fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

What is their motivation for moving beyond educating foreign students, to becoming immigration and job placement advocates on their behalf? It is implausible that the university presidents would give a straight answer to that question. However, to provide a context for considering the question, it should be noted that the universities actively recruit foreign students, based primarily on their contention that foreign students are good for the universities’ bottom lines.

The connection between competitive recruitment of international students and advocacy of more U.S. jobs for their foreign student graduates is obvious. For many of the foreign students, the prospect of earning a U.S. degree is that it will serve as an entry to a well paying U.S. job. If the prospect of finding a U.S. job diminishes, the attraction of enrollment in a U.S. university diminishes.

Leaving aside the fact that university leaders are prepared to sacrifice the future employment prospects of their American students in order to recruit more “profitable” international students, it is not clear that these foreign students are quite the financial windfall they are purported to be. The argument is often made that international students are an economic asset to public universities because they ‘pay their way’ without taxpayer subsidies.

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Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).

2 Comments

    • avatar

      And for that, you can thank the Repukeliscum running the House. The trajectory of job creation was clear: 2008-2010 a sharp increase, and 2010-2012, a flattening, even a decrease. McConnnell and Boehner are interested in one thing and one thing only – making Obama a one-termer. They have worked to sabotage the economy. In addition, there is an increase in private-sector jobs, but public-sector jobs have declined. Hire the teachers, police and firefighters back, and we suddenly have an INCREASE in jobs. In Colorado Springs, they cut firefighters by 25 %, and now the city has burned down.