The recent college-wide lawsuits, spearheaded by Harvard against the Trump administration’s international student ban, reveals that — for how liberal most American colleges are — profit matters more than education.
This past week, my alma mater issued a series of emails denouncing President Trump’s recent international student policy, calling it; “draconian,” “heartless” and “horrifying.” The university further demonstrated its intent to repeal this “inhumane” decision.
After conducting a quick internet search for “F-1 student visas,” corroborated definitions revealed an F-1 as “a visa category that allows international students to enter the U.S. to pursue full-time study at an accredited U.S. college, university, or other academic institution.” If classes go online, however, international students wouldn’t be studying at a U.S. academic institution, because the majority of American college campuses remain closed. So, instead of a Harvard student writing, “Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, USA” on their resume, they’d be better off with something more appropriate like “Harvard University Online in (insert your home province, country here).”
After all, this is where the Harvard student will be going to college, right?
What is “draconian” is telling international students they can’t study in 17th century libraries, and appreciate their grossly high tuition being spent on the upkeep of pristine campus quads and historic statues. What is “heartless” is having foreign students pay sticker price even though they’re not receiving the full college, never mind classroom, experience. And, what is “horrifying” and “inhumane” is declaring — well in advance — in-person classes for foreign students are canceled for the entire 2020-2021 academic year.
Evidently the academic well-being and success of international students at U.S. colleges is not a priority. But this is no surprise. America’s 21st century institutions of higher education have traded merit for profit. Today, a college’s prestige is defined by its endowment. After all, a college is even willing to go so far as to accept millions from a disgraced financier and convicted pedophile — with no institutional affiliation — if it means broadening their STEM programs and, of course, boosting their endowments.
Moreover, college endowments rely heavily on foreign students, who pay full-price tuition compared to most of their American counterparts. Without wealthy students from countries like Singapore and the U.A.E., America’s top institutions of higher education lose revenue and thus prestige.
On the other hand, by telling foreign students their first year of college will consist of taking courses in their home country, forget it. International students want to come to the U.S. That is where they applied. That is where they want to go. And, if America’s colleges truly care about their international students, they will give them their bang for their buck by reopening campuses to provide them a quality education this fall.
What the college-wide lawsuits really tell us, though, is that U.S. higher-ed institutions want to have their cake and eat it too. Instead of focusing their efforts on ways to return foreign students back to campus, colleges would rather remain closed, evade the law, and become liberal cash cows — filing pointless lawsuits, whilst washing out the bank accounts of their international student bodies.
Daniel Stone-Regan is a Westford native and currently resides in Newburyport. He completed an MA from Columbia University and currently works for the federal government.