Travel Ban or Not - International Students Still Coming to NE Ohio

University of Akron student center (Mark Urycki /Ideastream)
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University officials who recruit foreign students are back to being nervous again.  They saw a drop in international students after President Trump announced his first travel ban shortly after taking office.   The Supreme Court upheld his latest ban this week, but some area schools are cautiously optimistic. Ideastream’s Mark Urycki reports .

The University of Akron’s head of international recruitment JP Yates says the school was involved early with international students, even planning a campus in Iran in 1975. 

“Fir Hill Tower here in Akron – that was jokingly referred to as Little Persia.”

The Iranian Revolution put an end to that. 

But the school opened an international center last year and Yates says it’s now bucking national trends by seeing a growth in international students. Saudis used to dominate but their own government cutbacks have reduced their numbers.

President trump wants to limit student visas for Chinese students but Yates says they are also being urged at home to attend college in China. UA has almost 1200 international students.  Most are graduate students and mosr in STEM fields.

Like Akron, Case Western Reserve University has also worked to attract foreign students and has seen success. Vice Provost David Fleshler today (Wednesday) is in Mexico City talking collaboration with university officials there. 

“One of them raised their hand and said ‘well with what the Trump Administration is doing how is that going to affect the ability to collaborate and to relate with each other?’   These are uncomfortable questions.”    

About 23% of the CWRU graduate students are foreigners and Fleshler says they provide a boost to the community

“And they are really in many cases the underpinnings for the research and knowledge creation that’s going on which in many cases is being spun out to create companies and jobs and products, etc.”  

In Akron,  Yates agrees that the international students bring benefits besides tuition.

“When the kids come here and they meet Ohioans, when they meet northeast Ohioans, and they have a great experience and they get a great education and then they return home, they are ambassadors for us.”  

Because of travel restrictions, both Yates and Fleshler say they’ve had to counsel such students not to visit home unless they are sure they will be able to return.

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