Choosing to Study in the US

It’s no secret that the recent changes in the US have caused concern for international students who are considering the US for their master’s degrees.

In response to the perception that the climate in the U.S. might be less welcoming to individuals from other countries, over 200 colleges and universities have participated in the #You Are Welcome Here campaign. Many of the schools even made videos like this one from UT Tyler to show international students that we definitely want them to join us: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWXUNX-QNUU.

And of course we welcome international students!! The benefits of having international students on campus are plentiful, and most universities have known this for a long time. Successful graduates in our increasingly interdependent world will be the people who move comfortably between one culture and another; those with “intercultural competence.” To function effectively in different cultural contexts, our graduates must understand the complexities of our diverse world and the global community. With the increase in international graduate students at UT Tyler, our domestic students are broadening their understanding of what being a global citizen means, and learning to understand their own culture from the perspective of others.

Having international graduate students on campus benefits them, but it also benefits every other student with whom they interact. Our graduate international students have an opportunity to earn advanced degrees at UT Tyler, while our domestic students have an opportunity to interact with students from around the world. International students are a tremendous resource to UT Tyler (and the local economy). They bring an international perspective both inside and outside the classroom, making it extremely valuable for domestic students to have international students in the classroom with them.

Here are some interesting facts:
• In the past 5 years, we’ve seen an increase of over 200% in graduate international enrollment. The majority come to us from India, but we are seeing an increase in applicants and inquiries from Canada, China, Columbia, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.
• This past year we received applicants from 30 ‘new’ countries; that is, countries from which we hadn’t gotten application the year before.
• The most popular programs with graduate international students are Computer Science and our three graduate engineering programs, Civil, Electrical, and Mechanical; the MBA; the Industrial Management MS; and, increasingly, Psychology.
• We now have many international student organizations on campus. These organizations provide assistance and guidance to international students to ease their transition to American culture.
o African Student Organization
o Asian Student Association
o Bangladesh Student Association
o Global Patriots
o Indian Student Association
o Muslim Student Association
o Nepalese Student Organization

Another concern is the perception regarding opportunities post-graduation. As it turns out, the expected H1b changes will actually benefit international students. Moving from a lottery system to a merit-based immigration system would provide those with a master’s degree a much higher chance of getting H-1B visas. The reality is that there simply aren’t enough US students graduating with master’s in the STEM fields. We need international talent – especially students who have been educated at American universities.

So while you’re deciding on which university to attend, keep this in mind: US colleges and universities truly do welcome international students, and the job opportunity outlook for highly educated, highly skilled international graduates remains healthy.

Dr. Alecia Wolf
Assistant Dean, The Graduate School
The University of Texas at Tyler

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