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Argument: Admitting foreign students in the national interest

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Supporting quotes from the Economist Online Debate Series

On the other hand, allocating significant resources to attracting foreign students (and therefore less for citizens) might serve national interests more effectively. I can only speak from an American perspective, but inviting students from abroad to study in the United States has probably done more for our foreign policy than any Secretary of State. Browsing through the Wikipedia pages of world leaders in the Global South, you'll find that the presidents and prime ministers with any American education tend to have friendly relations with the US. These leaders are more likely to lead democracies, more likely to step down at the end of their terms, and are far more likely to govern peacefully. I imagine this is similarly true for leaders who have studied throughout the UK and EU.
The premise imagining students plotting terrorist acts or practicing spycraft is hopelessly hypothetical in nature. In practice, it's much easier to launch an attack against a country when you haven't lived and studied with your targets. If anything, those who study abroad return home as informal ambassadors who serve to dispell damaging myths about the host country to family, friends, peers and coworkers.
It's altogether difficult to hypothesize who exactly is being excluded and who is being included. Are we leaving behind someone who could potentially discover cold fusion-- or is it a legacy admit who scrapes together a degree in Comm Arts five years later? Are we inviting Mohammed Atta or Sergey Brin?"


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