What does the public think about international students?

Higher Ed Dive 

Hallie Busta
May 14, 2021
Dive Brief:
  • A majority of U.S. adults in a recent survey think international students positively impact the colleges they attend and the economy. But many respondents were skeptical or unaware of these students’ financial contributions to their institutions.
  • That’s according to a February poll of 1,000 U.S. voters about their views on foreign students, commissioned by the American Council on Education.
  • The responses indicate limited support for coordinated efforts to encourage more students from other countries to study in the U.S., ACE found.
Dive Insight:
ACE asked similar questions of U.S. adults in 2017 and 2019. Across the three surveys, the share of respondents grew who think the U.S. should encourage more international students to study there as a way to bolster the country. But that increase was relatively small, rising from 50% in 2017 to 55% in 2021.
A similar share — 49% — said the U.S. should “not go out of its way” to grow its international student population. When shown data about the steep drop in foreign students during the pandemic, only a third of respondents said the U.S. should make such an effort. Around a fourth said visas for college students headed to the U.S. should become harder to obtain.