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Urban Data Analytics

Political Influences in Higher Education Trends in the United States​

In the summer of this year, Forbes released an article titled “Foreign Students to Deal with Uncertainties Under New US Immigration Policy”, indicating that a policy memorandum  issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), changing how the agency will deal with unlawful presence for students as well as exchange visitors who hold F, J, and M non-immigrant visas. According to this memorandum, from the 9th of August onward. anyone who remains in the United States past the date of their United States purpose (for their Visa) will start accruing unlawful presence in the United States which could ultimately lead to a maximum ten year re-entry bar. The USCIS also added another twist, announcing a one-year time limit for Chinese graduate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students to study in the United States.


As an international student myself, I struggled a lot with finding employment after my undergraduate degree in the United States. And now, with the current administration’s apprehension towards immigrants and certain other countries, it seems to be a point of concern again. As a result, I wished to look at the the inflow of international students from universities in the US from around the world. Using Carnegie Mellon University as an example, I studied the variety of countries that students came from. With that, I looked at countries that were missing - the unrepresented ones. By looking at various criteria as to their absence among the CMU students, I began to formulate questions that needed answers, namely:

  1. Which of the unrepresented countries offer free higher education to their citizens?

  2. Have the number of students from represented countries dropped since 2016?

  3. What are the trends of international student inflow from the 8 countries listed under the “Travel Ban” issued in January 2017?

  4. What are the trends of international student inflow from the top 10 countries with the most refugees in the US?

There are organizations that have researched this particular topic, albeit in a different location. For example, Thomas Buettner and Rainer Muenz from the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) drafted a paper that compared and analyzed international migration in population and potential projections. Another example would be the International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s report titled “Migration forecasting: Beyond the Limits of Uncertainty”. Clearly, the topic of migration and immigration is a highly debated topic in this day and age, and I believe looking into this might shed some light on the matter. The aforementioned reports would provide as great starting points for identifying prior research done on the topic.

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