Cutting and pasting from an article on Forbes. I've been preaching this shit for years about how we need to make it easier for international students to come to the US and stay, while also increasing US based enrollment in STEM fields in colleges through advocacy and awareness.
Full text of article, emphasis mine in bold. Full URL here https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2018/03/02/guess-whos-not-coming-to-america-international-students/#b2e5d6a3c3e7
International students are America’s “golden goose.” They provide billions of dollars to the U.S. economy every year, subsidize the education of U.S. students and are a key source of talent that help make American tech companies the envy of the world. So why is the Trump administration trying to drive away international students? More important, is the administration succeeding? New data suggest the answer may be “yes.”
A recent National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) found that “The number of international students enrolled at U.S. universities declined by approximately 4% between 2016 and 2017. The study notes, “The number of international students enrolled at the graduate level in science and engineering fell by 14,730, or 6%, between 2016 and 2017, which represented about half of the overall drop in international students.”
In what could be a significant development, much of the overall decline in international student enrollment is due to fewer individuals from India studying computer science and engineering at the graduate level in 2017. “The number of international students from India enrolled in graduate level programs in computer science and engineering declined by 21%, or 18,590 fewer graduate students, from 2016 to 2017,” the NFAP analysis found.
Indian graduate students in computer science and engineering at U.S. universities are a key source of talent for U.S. companies. The decline in their numbers may relate to concerns about working after graduation. Those concerns may be tied to Trump administration policies to make it harder to obtain H-1B visas, administration proposals to eliminate work authorization for the spouses of H-1B visa holders, and the long waits for Indians to obtain employment-based green cards due to the per-country limit and low annual quotas.
Another more direct worry is the Trump administration has published its intention to restrict the ability of international students to work after graduation on Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows for 12 months of work for students. OPT in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields allows for an additional 24 months of work. Educators say OPT makes a U.S. education more practical and “real world.” U.S. employers say the time on OPT improves the chances they can obtain H-1B status for an international student.
Recall that an H-1B visa is typically the only practical way for an international student to work in the United States long-term. However, the annual H-1B quota has been reached for 15 straight years. Companies note they often need two or three attempts before gaining an H-1B for an international student, which means the end of Optional Practical Training, or its curtailment, could make it impossible for many international students ever to work in the United States – and that may be the goal of key Trump administration officials.
A bill introduced in December 2015 by then-Senator Jeff Sessions and Sen. Ted Cruz would have, in effect, prohibited international students from working in the United States after graduation. The bill eliminated Optional Practical Training and required anyone without a Ph.D. to work outside the U.S. for 10 years before obtaining an H-1B visa. The bill imposed such extreme conditions that even those with Ph.D.’s would have been unlikely to get a visa.
Trump immigration advisor Stephen Miller, who press reports indicate controls most of the administration’s immigration agenda, is a former Sessions staffer. Individuals who worked for organizations or Senators with animus toward international students and employment-based immigrants also fill many other key executive branch immigration policy positions.
As noted in previous columns, "merit-based migration" in the Trump administration means fewer immigrants, not making it easier for any actual high-skilled foreign nationals to immigrate to or stay in America.
Research has shown a positive connection between international students and U.S. student enrollment. “At the graduate level, international students do not crowd-out, but actually increase domestic enrollment,” according to a study by economist Kevin Shih. “Foreign student tuition revenue is used to subsidize the cost of enrolling additional domestic students.”
We can see this in real-time, as a lower number of international students at some universities have already resulted in budget cuts and fewer course offerings for U.S. students. “Just as many universities believed that the financial wreckage left by the 2008 recession was behind them, campuses across the country have been forced to make new rounds of cuts, this time brought on, in large part, by a loss of international students,” reported the New York Times in January. Wright State in Ohio, for example, eliminated programs for Italian, Russian and Japanese after international student enrollment declined.
About 90% of U.S. universities have a majority of international students among full-time enrollees in graduate level computer science and electrical engineering. If the number of international students in those fields declines significantly, then there will be fewer such programs available for U.S. students. Moreover, professors who rely on graduate students to conduct research are likely to relinquish their positions and pursue employment at companies, reducing the role of U.S. universities as a center of basic research.
In 2015, 81% of the full-time graduate students enrolled at U.S. universities in electrical engineering and 79% in computer science were international students, according to the National Science Foundation. If U.S. companies can’t hire these talented individuals in the U.S., then they will hire them outside the United States (or their competitors will) and take complementary jobs that U.S. workers could have filled along with them.