Last week, the Federal Register announced plans to increase prices for visa applications. Those wanting to apply for academic or vocational visas will have to pay up to $200, up from $100, starting Oct. 1. The program seeks to increase the fees by also charging schools that admit foreign students. As educational standards have risen worldwide and American tuition continues to skyrocket, the government should be finding new ways to attract – not detract – foreign talent to our schools.
Foreign universities are learning and improving upon the American higher education model. Receiving a good education doesn’t mean one needs to come to the United States, nor does coming to the United States necessarily mean a good education. Although American universities hold much of the power in the top universities in the world, nearly half of the 20 top rated schools in the world are overseas (the University is 142nd, according to the same ranking system by the Times Higher Education).
American universities have the highest tuition rates in the world, which is already a major strain to foreign students whose currency may not hold up to the dollar. Our European counterparts offer drastically cheaper tuition – often it’s free for citizens and foreigners – as well as increasingly competitive programs.
The increase in visa fees will go to beefing up the surveillance and monitoring of foreign-student activity in the United States. National security is important, and students who come to study should not simply disappear into the social fabric. The system, however, sends a very unwelcoming and suspicious message abroad at a time when we need to attract foreign talent in an increasingly global workplace.
The U.S government should be concerned about keeping the costs of American institutions down, not making it more expensive to study here. And a University that is striving to become a top-three research institution should be advocating an easier route for international students to make it to the United States.