In an article clearly aimed at the Trump administration, the New York Times lamented how a decrease in international students has forced many universities to cut their budgets.
Even though international enrollment was already starting to flatten in 2016 and the dollar continues to hold its value, the writer describes that President Trump’s “rhetoric and more restrictive views on immigration have made the United States even less attractive to international students.”
Schools in the Midwest that count on international student tuition have felt a particular blow. According to the article, international students pay double the tuition of Missouri residents. Waning enrollment has accounted for $14 million in lost revenue at the University of Central Missouri, alone.
“We’ve had to make some decisions, budgetary decisions, to adjust,” said interim Provost Michael Godard. The school’s chief operating officer mentions some of the cuts that the university had to make — deferring maintenance, laying off instructors, and reducing the campus newspaper budget — but fails to note any cuts that were made to the administration.
That’s likely because there weren’t any.
A recent drop in domestic students nationwide only adds to the pain for these colleges. Lower birth rates two decades ago combined with an increase in lower-income families who struggle to afford tuition means less revenue. The article neglects to mention any tuition hikes resulting from this revenue loss, but such hikes are probably just around the corner.
Universities are hesitant to trim the fat if they can avoid it and will do whatever it takes to maintain the status quo. While they claim to feel empathy for the financial concerns of students, revenue is their number one priority and efficiency is never a primary consideration.
Public colleges have taken advantage of international and even out-of-state students for far too long. Instead of relying so much on these students for funding, they should have focused on streamlining their budgets. Now they are paying the consequences.
Brendan Pringle (@BrendanPringle) is a freelance journalist in California. He is a National Journalism Center graduate and formerly served as a development officer for Young America's Foundation at the Reagan Ranch.