America has always been a symbol of democracy and the land of opportunity where dreams come true. Now, at the beginning of 2017, we’re seeing this long-standing image being challenged. Recent presidential elections have brought about some major controversies that could have profound local as well as global impact. Will they affect the state of international education in the US, too?
The US is the world’s top destination for tertiary-level studies, currently hosting more than 1 million international students. However, presidential stances on immigration and related policy decisions could have deep implications for the future of US higher education. As current and prospective international students from around the globe might feel greater apprehension when considering the US as their desired destination, local institutions join together to foster the founding values of international education.
To get more insight on how exactly this happened, we’ve caught up with Jessica Sandberg, Director of International Admissions at top-ranked US research institution Temple University. Jessica has sparked a nation-wide social media campaign including video messaging and the hashtag #YouAreWelcomeHere in an overwhelming initiative to celebrate diversity and inclusion and to alleviate concerns among current and future international students.
“It’s a way for us to let students know that our institutions are diverse, friendly, safe and committed to their development. More importantly, we want to demonstrate that this sentiment is shared throughout our campus communities.”
The campaign sees American international colleges and universities uniting voices in a powerful message to students from around the world that their presence in the US now is more important and valued than ever. Institutions that have built their prestige and academic reputation throughout the years thanks to international talent will remain committed to diversity and open to international students, while campuses will continue to be places of inclusion and safety.
“Several students told me the video was especially reassuring to their parents. Parents living overseas are at a disadvantage because the images they see in the news tend to be the most inflammatory and don’t accurately reflect daily life in the U.S. The video helps them see that there are many people on campus every day that are happy to support their children.”
Nearly 100 institutions have joined the initiative so far, rising strong to the mission of attracting and retaining international students in the US.
“The repetition of this welcoming message has a powerful effect, I think. In the videos, especially, you feel the genuine enthusiasm of the participants. You can sense the emotion and caring that went into producing them.”
Indeed, it is vital that this message gets amplified and reaches international students from all corners of the world to ease general feelings of apprehension. Against all odds, faith and confidence are strong that global perspective and diverse communities will continue to be integral parts of the identities of US international educational institutions.
“While we cannot predict future changes to immigration legislation, we know that such changes tend to happen slowly and we feel confident that the value of international students will be addressed in any such reforms.”
Read the full story of the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign in this in-depth interview with Jessica Sandberg.
As we also share the mission of promoting diversity in international education, we would like to take the opportunity to invite other US institutions engaged in this inspiring initiative to use also ETN Focus as a platform to spread their message and reach even bigger audience.
Join the #YouAreWelcomeHere voice in the comments below or contact us to share your #YouAreWelcomeHere story at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All images courtesy of Temple University.