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Education United States Politics

Does US Owe the World an Education At Its Expense? 689

An anonymous reader writes "'Right now, there are brilliant students from all over the world sitting in classrooms at our top universities,' President Obama explained to the nation Tuesday in his pitch for immigration reform. 'They are earning degrees in the fields of the future, like engineering and computer science...We are giving them the skills to figure that out, but then we are going to turn around and tell them to start the business and create those jobs in China, or India, or Mexico, or someplace else. That is not how you grow new industries in America. That is how you give new industries to our competitors. That is why we need comprehensive immigration reform." If the President truly fears that international students will use skills learned at U.S. colleges and universities to the detriment of the United States if they return home (isn't a rising tide supposed to lift all boats?) — an argument NYC Mayor Bloomberg advanced in 2011 ('we are investing millions of dollars [actually billions] to educate these students at our leading universities, and then giving the economic dividends back to our competitors – for free') — then wouldn't another option be not providing them with the skills in the first place?"
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Does US Owe the World an Education At Its Expense?

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  • by sco08y ( 615665 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @05:08PM (#42742277)

    Oh, wait, we do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @05:08PM (#42742281)

    Yes and here's a freebie

    Does the US Owe the World an Education At Its Expense?

  • At whose expense? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kervin ( 64171 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @05:10PM (#42742313) Homepage

    Just a cursory fact check should inform the "editors" of this article that international students are cash cows in many universities and actually keep many colleges open.

    Ironically the burden is directly the other way around. International students help fund the programs that local residents benefit from.

  • by morcego ( 260031 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @05:11PM (#42742317)

    Or make it attractive (and possible) for them to stay in the USA.

  • Networking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Antipater ( 2053064 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @05:15PM (#42742389)

    The best way to avoid a fight with someone is to be friends with them. The first step in becoming friends with someone is actually meeting them.

    Competition between international businesses is much preferable to war between nations.

  • by HuguesT ( 84078 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @05:15PM (#42742407)

    Meanwhile, they learn the local language and culture. They are more likely to do business with you. They are more likely to buy your products because they know them. International students are often more motivated to study, lifting the general class level.

  • The way this submission is crafted invites a flame war, but ok, let's tackle it.

    The submitter is evidently not aware that the vast majority of international students pay full freight and then some when they attend a US school. So, in the small picture, that's why US universities market to them, at a time when US students are having difficulty ponying up (for a variety of reasons), and state legislatures are cutting funding for the public institutions.

    Bigger picture, yes, we're educating the competition, but we're also familiarizing the next world elite with US culture much as the British used to, making the world ever more US-centric. Given the economics for the schools, believe me, these students are going to come. So, we might as well make it easier for them to stay AFTER we've educated them, and thus allow them to add value to the US (culturally, economically) over the long run. If we create the brains, why encourage them drain back out into the world?

  • by ohnocitizen ( 1951674 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @05:16PM (#42742421)
    Two problems with this outlook:

    1. It misses the benefits of having foreign students in the US, and having our own students exposes to students from other countries without needing to travel (so those who can't afford the time/money to travel still get more exposure). These benefits are far reaching. If we became a country with world class universities closed off to non citizens - we'd rapidly feel a diplomatic bite, and face more insidious harm long term.

    2. A college education is more than just job training, and the perspective and growth it provides are only allocated to a small portion of the populace. We need to be talking about making college as universal, free, and affordable (for society) as high school. Then we'll see some real progress.
  • by Cyrano de Maniac ( 60961 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @05:19PM (#42742477)

    The current situation does inure some benefits to the U.S., but in not easily measurable ways which is why they're not talked about all that much.

    My observations when I was a college student was that international students would gain a perspective on the U.S., Americans, our life, and our culture which was different from what they expected when they first arrived. I assume when they went back home that this new perspective would cause them to evaluate their own local press and government statements about the U.S. in light of their first-hand experiences and knowledge. I had lab partners from Saudi Arabia, Ghana, and mainland China, all of whom I was able to talk with about perspectives and impressions of the U.S., and I have no doubt that each of them had a more nuanced and healthier view of the U.S. after having lived here.

    If you want to stabilize relations with China and various Muslim areas of the world I think we'd be well served to invite far more of their students to study here so that when they go back home they can correct the thinking of their friends and family. Likewise the Americans who have a chance to study with them will realize that by and large "people are people", dispelling the simplistic "us versus them" mindset we seem to be afflicted with.

  • by Psyborgue ( 699890 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @05:21PM (#42742511) Homepage Journal
    This all depends on whether they assimilate or not. Some might very well be internally hostile towards their host country, or at least unwilling to adopt compatible values. In such cases, in a way it's even worse if they stay. This is most not often the case in the US, however. I'd wager most who gain an education here want to stay here and contribute. They should be allowed to.
  • by rnturn ( 11092 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @05:33PM (#42742757)
    What would they do here? It's not like the education they've received is appreciated by American businesses. I just saw an ad for an IT internship that required a Bachelor's degree (Master's degree preferred!). Not working toward the degree... actually had the degree. (My favorite example is the car rental agency that insisted on a four-year degree as a requirement to work the counter at the local agency; I'll bet those grads were glad they busted their tail in college for that plum job.) American corporations are seriously delusional nowadays.
  • umm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by buddyglass ( 925859 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @05:34PM (#42742773)
    Hosting top foreign students is about as close to "win/win" as you get, depending on how it's managed. They pay tuition. They do research. They spend money on basic necessities while here (rent, food, etc.). Sometimes, if we're lucky, they stay here after graduating and become citizens. Highly paid citizens who are likely to contribute more in tax revenue and economic activity than they consume in govt. services. That is to say, the exact type of citizen we want to attract.

    Someone with a similar opinion: []
  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @05:35PM (#42742795) Homepage Journal
    Hey, all I know is if we had limited the foreigners coming into college when I was there....I might have had a fighting chance to get a physics lab instructor (grad student) that I could have understood when he spoke.

    I was so frustrated, I mean physics to me was hard enough to try to grasp and learn...but having to try to translate what the teacher was saying made it doubly difficult.

    I had to drop and retake a couple of times before I got a grad student who was teaching the class that didn't have an accent so thick that you could ice skate on it.

  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @05:36PM (#42742807)

    Not delusional - they just have the advantage. They can afford to ask for overqualified candidates, because there is a surplus of applicants at all qualification levels, scrambling over each other in the frantic rush to grab a job - any job at all, so long as it pays the rent.

  • by tqk ( 413719 ) <> on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @06:00PM (#42743157)

    Or make it attractive (and possible) for them to stay in the USA.

    Concerned US citizen here with a question for you: why would we want to do that?

    I take it you prefer to have your population dominated by uneducated burger flippers instead of college graduates? That's why the US is such a mess these days. You value ignorance. You look down on people who know and think about things. Hell, you throw 'em in jail.

  • by chihowa ( 366380 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @06:14PM (#42743377)

    No, delusional. "Overqualified" is usually a bad quality to have in an employee. It means they're not fully using their abilities, will be bored at the job, and will ultimately leave as soon as better prospects present themselves.

    Specifically and deliberately staffing your company with overqualified employees is a recipe for poor performance and high turnover. Anyone who thinks that's a good idea is delusional.

  • by SomeKDEUser ( 1243392 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @06:22PM (#42743487)

    There is exactly one Ponzi scheme which works: immigration. This is the real source of the US's riches. Generations upon generations of immigrants building their lives and enriching the country. Why do you think your country is rich? Natural ressources are good, but you are not Saudi Arabia, and that's a good thing too. The institutions are good but not great, although they are extremely stable. The infrastructure is pretty crummy. The primary educational system has pretty dismal outcomes. But new generations of immigrants bring in their skills and motivation.

    Higher education is good, and the spillover in new industries drive the new economy, but you know the joke: "what is a Russian professor teaching Indians and Chinese students -- A US University classroom". Immigration is the key there. Again, it is a Ponzi scheme, new generations generating the wealth to sustain the older ones.

    But this is a good and virtuous one! Embrace it: it makes the US vibrant compared to Old Europe, and I say that as a European rather found of my continent!.

  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @06:54PM (#42743869) Homepage

    Frankly, I'd prefer if more foreign students went back to where they came from to improve their own communities. I am amazed by the percentage of medical doctors in the USA who immigrated from third world countries and now earn their livings soaking middle class Americans. I want my doctor to actually care about my health, not just his bottom line.

    And why would an American-born doctor be more likely to do that than a foreign-born one? He's stuck working in the same broken healthcare system that funnels profits to insurance companies over doctors.

  • by Ocker3 ( 1232550 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @07:12PM (#42744057)
    Yeah, but your point isn't in the vein of the slightly zenophobic summary, so noone else wants to engage with you *sigh* An educated world is one less likely to have as many terrorists, reactionaries, etc., one more willing to use modern science and medicine to solve problems instead of war, but nooooo, it's too expensive, we should solve our own problems first, other countries should look after themselves *facepalm* Why did Australia build schools in Indonesia under a conservative (for Australia) government? Because the best schools at that time in Indonesia were funded by Muslim Radicals, they had the best teachers, the best facilities, etc., so people sent their kids there even though there was a chance they'd become radicalised and join an extremist group. If you offer a good alternative people will use it. The more educated\experienced people are, the more willing they are on average to sit down to solve problems, education is a way of imbuing people with knowledge from past generations so it doesn't take years of experience for them to realise violence should be a last resort.
  • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @07:46PM (#42744409) Journal

    One of the major reasons the US is rich is because the rest of the world has been using US dollars they receive to buy and sell oil instead of using them to buy US goods and services. It's like if I write a cheque to pay my landlord, who doesn't cash it, but uses it to pay his mortgage, and the bank uses it to pay their employees, and so on, without anyone ever cashing it. The wealth of the US comes at the rest of the worlds expense, for the most part, and they stablize and extend the system with their war machine.

    With China now selling oil and natural gas in renminbi and Russia giving China unfettered access to their natural resources, there are going to be some pretty dramatic changes in store for the American people, and most of them don't appear to even have a clue.

    They're going to need immigrants desperately, though, because they have a demographic imbalance that's going to leave them with too few young people to maintain things and care for all the retiring boomers.

    If they were to close their doors and try to go it on their own, they would be so completely fucked that it's laughable to think about.

    And the standard of living of the rest of the world would go up dramatically.

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @07:50PM (#42744453)
    I also heard it was a ploy for H1-B. "we got no qualified American applicants, but 1,000 from India that claimed 20 years experience with Windows 2000 in 2003. So we need more H1-B visas for these exceptional candidates."
  • by arisvega ( 1414195 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @08:56PM (#42745181)

    and then giving the economic dividends back to our competitors – for free

    US universities charge fees in the six-figure range. How is that 'for free' ?

    perhaps the question should be "Does the rest of the world owe the US an education?"

    And perhaps it should not. Why would it? A non-US citizen in the US barely has any rights, and a visitor is taxed at a flat 30% having to go through excessive paperwork to cut it down to almost 20%. By comparison, A US citizen in, f.i., the EU (and elsewhere) has several, like free (as in 'free beer') medical coverage, legal representation, even psychological support in most member-states, and elsewhere: services for which they would pay dearly in the US. Some have actually complained that they are exempt from the EU unemployment safety net, bitter for not being entitled to 'free money' after a couple of years of employment, and that they have to pay fees for education in EU institutions. Fortunately, they were laughed at, infused by generous doses of 'european' humor.

  • by green1 ( 322787 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @10:56PM (#42746345)

    Don't worry, the US is working hard to discourage anyone from visiting.

The primary function of the design engineer is to make things difficult for the fabricator and impossible for the serviceman.