Foreign Students Not Scared

tomeboy writes "It was about one year ago that I received an email from a past ALA president about the Patriot Act’s threat to foreign students enrolling in US colleges and universities. (I would have posted it here but I trashed it as I do all these “action alerts� I receive from this person.) Anyway the email predicted that tighter scrutiny with visas would have a negative impact on enrollments and the bottom lines of many schools. I replied back, anonymously of course, that tighter security might not be a bad idea as two of the nineteen hijackers on 9/11 had visa violations. I received a five word response, "Thank you for the information".

The following article from the Daily Illini states that the Patriot Act has not negatively affected enrollment of foreign students at the University of Illinois.

This article, as most PA articles, includes the obligatory bit about how the government could walk in a library .."and identify what books are being checked out and by what people." I am pleased to see that the reporter accurately said are being rather than have been checked out as this is an important distinction.
FWIW our college has not seen a decrease in foreign student enrollment as well."

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What distinction

I am pleased to see that the reporter accurately said are being rather than have been checked out as this is an important distinction.

In what way, though? For me to have books in my possession, I have to check them out. As soon as the books are registered as loaned to me they have been checked out. The way the Springfield FBI spokesman put it, the connotation is that they have access to what books are being loaned as the information is processed by the computer system; "are being checked out". Even I don't think that is the case at the moment, although there is no doubt that it can be done. The most likely nuance is that the FBI can or will check to see only what volumes a patron has in his possession currently, without checking to see what he borrowed on previous occasions. Which doesn't make a lot of sense to me because there couldn't be enough information to properly establish any kind of a pattern. This looks very much to be a matter of semantics.

Re:What distinction

No. The FBI does not have a "tap" into the circulation module at the U of I. They cannot see who has what in real time.

The distinction is this. If Fang has historically checked out 1000 books, and currently has in his possession "Slander" by Ann Coulter, all the Feds could surmise is your good taste in political reading. And that you are a voracious reader. That’s it. Unfortunately many stories about the PA and libraries give the false impression that every title historically checked out is saved for each patron record. This is simply not true in most cases.

FWIW I speak from personal experience with this as my library, by virtue of being in the same consortium as U of I, shares the same ILS. (Endeavor)

red herring

This issue is similar to when Ashcroft stated that the Patriot Act hadn't been used in libraries.
    It doesn't really matter whether foreign students are afraid to come here or not. What we did was necessary and if it makes some people uncomfortable thats unfortunate but also irrelevant.
         

Not much of a story...

Interesting, but I'm wondering why you chose to post a story by a student newspaper that had no statistics and only used as a source a few university officials. A far better story was posted today in the Chronicle of Higher Education...

New Survey Confirms Sharp Drop in Applications to U.S. Colleges From Foreign Graduate Students
By MICHAEL ARNONE

More than 90 percent of American colleges and universities have seen a drop in applications from international graduate students for the fall 2004 term, and the number of submissions has fallen 32 percent from last year, according to a survey released by the Council of Graduate Schools on Tuesday.

The findings support a similar survey released last week that found a sharp decline in the number of applications from graduate students from overseas, and a smaller drop in the number from undergraduates. That survey was jointly conducted by the graduate-schools council, the American Council on Education, the Association of American Universities, Nafsa: Association of International Educators, and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.

[snip]

Re:Not much of a story...

Of course, there's a difference between applications and enrollment. As long as there are more qualified foreign applicants than there are spots for them, enrollment will not suffer, even if applications dropped by 90%. The school would still be enrolling exactly the same number of new foreign students.

There's also the fact that Canadian universities may be benefitting from the US policy, since students seem to applying to Canadian schools, rather than deal with the hassle of US INS.*

* Tanya Schevitz. "Far fewer students applying to colleges in the U.S." San Francisco Chronicle, 26 Feb 2004, p A.19.

Re:Not much of a story...

Fair question. A couple of notes.

If we are speaking of providing statistics, which I am all for, it follows folks will have to believe them. Take a peek at Keith Platfoot’s article on my web site if interested in statistics re the Patriot Act. The problem is folks simply believe what they want to believe.


As for the difference between enrollments and applications. The email I received from the past ALA president concerned enrollments and the bottom lines of colleges. Essentially how Aschroft is taking revenue from schools. This article addresses the issue of enrollments.

Make sense?

Re:Not much of a story...

My wife was for 7 or 8 years a regular instructor in an intensive E.S.L. program at a local community college. She still acts as a substitute there and is in contact with many friends who work there. This particular program has suffered a serious decline in enrollment since 9/11. It's not clear to me how much of the decline is due to provisions of the Patriot Act, how much to non-PA changes in INS procedures, and how much to students' own decisions.

The program now hires few or no adjunct faculty and calls upon its full-time faculty to fill in all the gaps by teaching the evening classes. To be sure this is only a sample of one, but the objective changes in staffing and scheduling make the decline perfectly obvious.

Numbers

Even if it is the case that the total numbers of foreign students enrolled have not declined, from before and after 9/11. The important distinction is: has the rate of change, changed? You can go from foreign enrollments increasing at greater than 10% a year, to a 0% increase, and not 'lose' any students under your scheme.-- Ender, Duke_of_URLï

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