Many overseas students come to the United States each year to seek higher education at American colleges, however, issues such as the cost of a degree and post-graduation employment chances may reduce the country’s appeal as a study abroad destination.
According to a recent analysis by Interstride, 42% of survey respondents decided to study in the United States because of the rankings and reputation of American colleges. Following that, 23% of students said they came to the United States because they wanted to work in the nation after graduation.
Additionally, a new study by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) indicated that the United States is losing international students to Canada, particularly in the STEM fields. Indian students enrolled in STEM courses are among them, and they make up one of the largest groups of international students in the United States.
Between 2016 and 2019, foreign student enrolment at American institutions fell by 7%, but climbed by 52% at Canadian colleges and universities, according to the research. The shift in favour is primarily due to strict immigration rules in the United States.
Canada is well-known for its visa and immigration policies, which allow international students to stay in the country after they finish their studies. Its post-graduation work permit (PGWP) is regarded as the first important step toward permanent residency.
“Canada is benefiting from a diversion of young Indian tech workers from US destinations, largely because of the challenges of obtaining and renewing H-1B visas and finding a reliable route to US permanent residence,” Peter Rekai, a Toronto-based immigration lawyer, was quoted saying in Forbes.
There’s also the financial aspect to consider. In 2021-22, international undergraduate fees in Canada are expected to be roughly US$26,495 per year, which is less than the US’ average cost of US$43,000-50,000 per year for out-of-state students, depending on the school.
The United States has increased its attempts to attract more students to its borders. The Biden administration recently updated its policies and expanded the Optional Practical Training (OPT) programme to include additional STEM courses.
While the expansion of STEM options is encouraging for students, one international higher education expert believes that it does not change the reality that the US post-study work programme (OPT) is still in jeopardy.
“In order to remain the beacon that it has always been, the US must solve the puzzle of the higher education-to-immigration transition by providing a clear and visible pathway to opportunity for students at the outset,” said Dr Rajika Bhandari, an international higher education expert, in an email interview with Study International.
Without such adjustments, the United States will continue to haemorrhage American-educated talent to other nations, as it has done in recent years. This includes more appealing and welcoming immigration laws that allow brilliant overseas students to stay in the United States and pursue their goals while also contributing considerably to the economy and society.
Bhandari also believes that the “single-intent” part of the international student visa should be eliminated so that potential overseas students are not obliged to determine and declare at the time of application that they would return home after their education.
She added that most students are too young and inexperienced at that stage to know exactly how their goals and objectives would shape up once they finish their education. She went on to say that it’s logical to believe that all students, international or not, want to put their knowledge and abilities to use by acquiring job experience.
Although expanding STEM options is a positive move, Bhandari believes that the US post-study employment programme (OPT) remains fragile.
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