Why We Need International Students

For decades, international students have enjoyed bipartisan support in the United States, with strong consensus that they fuel American innovation, job creation, and competitiveness. But in recent years, their access to U.S. colleges and universities has come under threat, and other nations are seizing the opportunity to bring in the world’s brightest students.

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  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting

Asher Ross - Supervising Producer

Markus Zakaria - Audio Producer and Sound Designer

Rafaela Siewert - Associate Podcast Producer

Episode Guests
  • Edward Alden
    Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow
  • Esther Brimmer
    James H. Binger Senior Fellow in Global Governance

Show Notes

In July, the Donald J. Trump administration enacted a new rule that would have forced international students to attend in-person classes amid the coronavirus pandemic, or face deportation. This led to a swift backlash from universities, educators, business leaders, and students. Though the rule was reversed, it follows a chain of actions that has sought to curb immigration to the United States. 


This episode examines the profound value that international students offer to the United States, and what the country will lose if it cedes its role as the premier destination for a good education. 


From CFR


Huawei: China’s Controversial Tech Giant,” Lindsay Maizland and Andrew Chatzky


How Are U.S. Colleges Dealing With Coronavirus?,” Anshu Siripurapu


U.S. Temporary Foreign Worker Visa Programs,” Claire Felter 


Beset by Crises, Universities Must Reassert Their Values,”  Foreign Affairs


Read More


U.S. Rescinds Plan to Strip Visas From International Students in Online Classes,” New York Times


How International Students Are Changing U.S. Colleges,” Wall Street Journal 


Trump’s Anti-Immigration Crusade Is About to Strike at the Heart of the U.S. Economy,” Edward Alden, Foreign Policy


New Data Shows Slowdown in Growth of International Students in the U.S.,” Foreign Policy


The Immigrant-Unicorn Connection,” Wall Street Journal


I’m the President of M.I.T. America Needs Foreign Students.,” New York Times


Foreign Student Enrollment At U.S. Universities May Plummet This Fall,” Forbes


Stranded International Students Are Sustaining U.S. College Towns,” Bloomberg Businessweek


After College, International Students Have To Leap Hurdles To Stay In U.S.,” NPR  


Warding off International Students Will Destroy US Jobs,” Medium


Watch or Listen 


Loss of international students will affect US education eco-system,” CNBC


US student visas: ‘We’re at the government’s mercy’,” BBC  


Trump Admin Backs Off Effort To Block Foreign Students From Living In US,”  MSNBC  


FBI Urges Universities To Monitor Some Chinese Students And Scholars In The U.S.,” All Things Considered

Genocide and Mass Atrocities

Thirty years ago, Rwanda’s government began a campaign to eradicate the country’s largest minority group. In just one hundred days in 1994, roving militias killed around eight hundred thousand people. Would-be killers were incited to violence by the radio, which encouraged extremists to take to the streets with machetes. The United Nations stood by amid the bloodshed, and many foreign governments, including the United States, declined to intervene before it was too late. What got in the way of humanitarian intervention? And as violent conflict now rages at a clip unseen since then, can the international community learn from the mistakes of its past?


Many Americans are losing faith in the benefits of internationalism. But whether it’s wars in the Gaza Strip and Ukraine, worsening extreme weather as a result of climate change, or the trade-offs of globalization, events abroad are increasingly having a local impact. At the same time, more state and local officials in the United States are becoming involved in global affairs, conducting their own form of diplomacy on international issues and driving investment home. What role should the United States play in the world economy? And how do states and cities fit in?


Unidentified flying objects (UFOs) are real. And the truth about them is often hidden from the public, for reasons related to national security. That secrecy has fed conspiracy theories about the possibility of alien life on Earth, creating a stigma around the legitimate scientific search for life on other planets. Why are UFOs considered a defense concern? And does a defense framing of UFOs inhibit scientific research?

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