A lengthy article in the Wall Street Journal noted that American universities are enrolling unprecedented numbers of foreign students that is being driven by the rise of an affluent class in China along with generous scholarships offered by oil-rich Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia.
In addition, cash-strapped public universities are also driving the trend as they aggressively recruit students from abroad – especially undergraduates who pay a premium compared with in-state students. In fact, officials at many state universities say the higher-paying international students essentially subsidize in-state American students.
However, the notion that international students are displacing state residents has fueled a backlash in some states with universities taking action. For example: The University of California system recently announced it will cap the percentage of out-of-state and foreign undergraduate students at the Los Angeles and Berkeley campuses at the current level (22%) while University of Iowa regents last year adopted a plan to tie state funding of public universities to the number of in-state students enrolled.
Its should be said that unlike many foreigners who earn advanced degrees, most international undergrads say they are committed to returning home after their studies. For example: Jinxin Li, a junior studying economics at CU Boulder, was quoted as saying:
“Why would I stay? I don’t have connections here. In China, my father knows people; it’s easy to do business.”
Meanwhile, students from countries whose governments pay for their education, such as Saudi Arabia, are obligated to return home.