American colleges from coast to coast – especially smaller independent schools – are reporting a large decline in the number of applications they are getting from foreign students this year. And with good reason. Why would students run the risk of running afoul of more stringent immigration laws in the U.S., when they can choose to study in Canada or Europe instead? Why would they invest time and money to begin studies that might be interrupted later?

Yet there is ample reason to believe that students from at least one country, China, will continue to come to study in the United States. According to “China’s STEM Research Environment in Higher Education,” an article that ran in Science Daily on April 6, 2018, there are many reasons why studying STEM subjects in the U.S. remains a very compelling prospect for many Chinese students. The article, which presents findings from a study conducted at UC Santa Barbara, points up these reasons:

  • The allure of a degree from an American institution remains very strong in China and provides status and professional advantages to Chinese nationals who return home to live.
  • The general approach to education in China is too rigid to allow students the leeway to be creative and explore research in innovative ways. And scientific research, we know, relies on creativity.
  • The overall climate for conducting research is better in the U.S. than it is in China. One reason? More money is earmarked here for research, and more research is funded by businesses. Another reason? Chinese researchers are more hamstrung by bureaucratic red tape.

Want to know more about trends in American higher education? Participate in the National Career Pathway Study.

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