Fewer international students come to U.S.

Universities all over the United States are lacking foreign graduate students, according to a study released by the Council of Graduate Schools.

The study reported that 68 percent of their 450 member schools recorded a decline in foreign enrollment from fall 2003 to fall 2004.

Marquette has thus far avoided the downturn, according to David Bruey, director of the Office of Campus International Programs, which recruits and brings in overseas graduate students. He said foreign graduate enrollment was down slightly, from 255 new students in 2003 to 250 new students in 2004.

But the number of Marquette applications is down more than 10 percent from last year, from 586 applications in 2003 to 523 applications in 2004, according to Craig Pierce, the director of graduate admissions. Overseas applications, many of which were from India and China, comprised 23 percent of graduate applications. In fall 2001, shortly before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, applications from India and China were 38 percent of the total.

Bruey said the decline in applications was by design, however. In the past, many recruited students had never come to the university, causing a waste of resources, so fewer students were recruited. As well, Pierce said, the numbers of domestic applications were rising.

Bruey said there were many reasons for a graduate student not to come to the United States. For example, other universities, both in the student's home country and other countries, have increased their recruiting efforts.

He also said many students recruited by U.S. universities often made their decision not to go well ahead of time, meaning some colleges had wasted money trying to win over recruits who were not coming in.

The U.S. government has also made graduate studies in the United States harder to obtain. Students must obtain a student visa, but thanks to SEVIS, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, they must also fill out a background check form and submit it to the State Department, who approves the visa.

The system, which started in 1996 but saw greater use after 9/11, can be complicated. Ellen Blauw, associate director of the Campus International Programs, said the university enters information on all admitted overseas students into the system. Then, paperwork declaring them eligible students is sent to the students, who apply for the visa and must present the paperwork when they are interviewed by American embassy officials.

During the interview, the student must also prove they do not intend to stay in the country after they finish schooling, which Blauw said is a vague standard and can lead to many people being denied visas.

The strict scrutiny has led to a backlog of visa applications, according to Ed Fallone, associate professor in the law department. Because of that, students could potentially not have their visa in time to make their classes.

Or the students just give up.

"It's not because they are afraid to come (because of 9/11), but the extra screening made them not want to" come to the United States, Bruey said.

Huili Yao, 34, a third-year graduate student in the College of Arts & Sciences originally from China, said the extra screening suggested something else.

"Americans don't like foreign students to stay here," she said.

However, she did not have a problem getting her visa. She said Americans trusted her.

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