WENR, November 2018: Americas

U.S.: New International Enrollments Decline Again

Despite the total number of International Students in the United States being at an all-time high of 1.1 million, this weeks Open Doors report shows a steep drop – 6.6 per cent – in the number of new international students for the second year in a row. The gains in overall numbers are attributed to a change in the allowable duration of OPT, a program that allows recent graduates to stay in the U.S. and work with their student visas. One of the more alarming details is the drop of 6.4 per cent in the number of international students studying engineering – international students’ most common field of study. Analysis of destinations indicates a potential shift of enrollments from the heartland to larger, known coastal colleges and universities.

Inside Higher Ed [1]
November 13

U.S.: Gubernatorial Winners and Higher Education

Though it didn’t gather as much attention as the “blue-wave” shift in the U.S. House of Representatives, and perhaps more importantly for Higher Education in the U.S., Democrats gained control of 7 state governorships. Since control of education and HEIs is largely governed on the state level, this is a very positive result for those states. The new winners have very ambitious plans for their state universities, ranging from free community college (Connecticut), to tuition waivers for teachers (Arizona), to New York’s plan to waive tuition for most families at public universities.

November 7

Brazil: Bolsonaro poses a serious threat to higher education

Brazil’s new right-wing president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, has a number of very specific policies in mind for the education sector as part of his larger bid to erase “left-wing proselytizing” from the institutions of the country. In addition to large scale funding cuts – that could endanger Brazil’s position as a scientific leader in South America among other negative consequences – Bolsonaro has proposed creating a large vocational education system under army control. Academics in Brazil are mobilizing against the upcoming “witch hunt,” and the country in general is bracing for the battle for the “hearts and minds of Brazilians” represented by the election results.

University World News [3]
November 2

U.S.: New Immigration Data Show Where Foreign Students Study and Work

Previously unreleased data from the Department of Homeland Security is revealing some very interesting pathways through U.S. schools to U.S. jobs for international students. According to the data, “433,556 foreign graduates were cleared for temporary jobs in their academic field after finishing school in 2017,” meaning almost half of all international students currently in the U.S. are cleared for some future U.S. employment. Among the companies who are employing the largest numbers of OPT students are the big names in tech, like Amazon, Intel, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook etc., while the largest universities supplying students with OPT status are NYU, Northwestern Polytechnic, USC and Columbia.

Wall Street Journal [4]
October 31

U.S.: In US, Indian STEM students bag 56% of job training slots

in the U.S. the Optional Training Program (OPT) is designed provide a 12 month window of opportunity for recent international graduates to find employment in the states. For those seeking a little more concrete job experience, graduating from a STEM programs grants an additional 24 months extension on OPT. The largest percentage of STEM OPT slots (50,507 workers or 56 per cent) are currently occupied by former students from India – which is even more interesting since Indian students represent 16 per cent of the total number of international students.

The Times of India [5]
October 29

Canada: Provincial Tories pull funding for three new campuses in GTA

Among the first actions of the new Ontario government led by Progressive Conservative Tom Ford is the cancelling provincial funding of three new campuses planned for the Greater Toronto Area. Pointing to an inherited budget deficit from the preceding liberal government, Ford has ceased funding for campuses in Brampton, Milton, and Markham. The leaders of those three communities, one of whom was instrumental in getting the new PC government elected, decried the cuts, and are seeking workarounds to complete the campuses.

The Toronto Star [6]
October 23