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Argument: Schools often need to meet domestic over foreign educational needs

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Supporting quotes from the Economist Debate Series

These schools are heavily subsidized by local taxpayers so the programs are accessible to all members of the community and can contribute to their self-sufficiency and upward mobility. Many community and state colleges play a vital role in the local economy, serving as small business incubators or offering specialized training to fill the needs of local employers, such as hospitals or technology companies. It is doubtful that taxpayers in these towns would support extending these subsidies to foreign students, who traditionally have been expected to pay their own way. In addition, it makes little sense to provide job training or internships to foreign students who might displace locals from these opportunities."
  • Jessica Vaughn. Economist Online Debate Series. The Opposition's rebuttal. December 14th, 2007 - "It’s important to clarify exactly what kind of protectionism we are talking about. No one is arguing that governments should try to restrict students from traveling abroad to study in order to protect domestic universities from foreign competition. That kind of protectionism would be harmful and short-sighted. As one commenter pointed out, students are more accurately considered consumers rather than goods.
But what is so dreadful about protecting educational opportunities for local students? As JD points out, the reality is that at some institutions the number of opportunities is limited, either by funding or by the number of available faculty. In an ideal world, such as the world of generously-endowed private institutions, the institution should choose the most qualified student, and be free to define exactly what “qualified” means (subject to the parameters of national visa laws, of course). However, there are a sizeable number of schools around the globe that depend on the support of taxpayers as well as tuition, and these schools should not be ashamed to give preference to locals, especially those who do not have the means to shop globally, as pointed out Iditero and others. I agree with Ms. Cairncross that most everybody wins when Stanford and Oxford and Tsinghua Universities compete for the best students, but I see no compelling reason for American nursing programs, for example, to entertain applications from abroad, however meritorious, when they are turning away tens of thousands of U.S. applicants a year due to a faculty shortage."
  • John Locke once said, commenter. The Economist Online Debate Series. December 16, 2007 13:20 - "I vote Con because of two reasons: 1. While the Pro did adequately bring up the point of both the expansion of horizons and economic benefits, the Con side addressed these two points well, pointing out how not all universities (specifically community colleges in the United States) were designed for foreign students, and how both an economic subsidy for all students (regardless of nationality) is required, as well as costs to the local economy."
  • Mediatron, commenter. Economist Debate Series, Education 2. December 14th, 2007 - "The American higher education system is overburdened with underprepared students. Campuses are overrun especially with Asian youngsters who test better. Because we can't seem to educate our children, we can't turn our higher education system into a factory for foreigners. According to what findings do we know they will remain here to become US citizens and add to the stumbling US economy? More likely the US is not only in debt to China in a dozen ways, we also educate their children who then return home to in adulthood dominate us."
  • rtfsouth. Commenter. Economist Online Debate Series. Education 2. December 14th, 2007 - "'Should' - 'Everywhere'?? So, the proposition states that every university 'should' go international, and (says Ms. Cairncross)anything else is creeping protectionism. The proposition is overstated, as is that statement in defense. Making a decision to serve a local or regional market as a government or educational entity hardly qualifies as protectionism, and it is absurd to make that link. We could agree that government interference in university admission decisions could be protectionist in intent or in effect. However, the proposition as stated is equally intrusive - every university 'should'... no university 'should' anything, it's for the university and it's backers to decide what market they want to serve, and the level of students they wish to attract. If the market is local, then the market is local. If the university wants to go for top talent regardless of the source, fine. If the government wants to encourage a positive balance of payments in education, fine. Competitive decisions that get to be made by the players. Where did we get 'should' out of a free market process?There is no more 'should' here than a country 'should' be in the clothing export business. Says who? Maybe it makes sense, maybe not. Higher education is great, but most countries have a lot of other priorities, like primary education. Why not let their elites spend their own (sometimes ill-gotten) funds on a good education for their children, and spend money on primary education or microcredit schemes? The proposition would have you believe that the University of Lower Southwestern Bangladesh should recruit from the entire world. Why would the government or university system of Bangladesh even entertain the idea?...Some universities will, some won't. Some governments will, some won't. Adam Smith would let the market decide the outcome."
  • RyMcC, commenter. Economist Online Debate Series. December 13, 2007 06:24 - "While a student�€™s performance in high school is a good indicator of how he or she may do in higher education, it does not always indicate the potential of how one may do in the future. It is important to seek highly qualified individuals, but it is more important to educate the youth of one�€™s own society. Although universities should accept international students that meet the qualifications and are willing to compete, the government and domestic institutions should focus on educating those at home more so than abroad. By bringing in highly qualified students from around the world and ignoring those who are less qualified at home, there is great possibility of creating an elite class and a larger gap between the rich and the poor, the educated and uneducated."
  • acegikm, commenter. Economist Online Debate Series. December 12, 2007 15:23 - "One cannot ignore the fairness issues associated with foreign students occupying student slots that would go to other "taxpaying" citizens. Private universities, who do not accept subsidies, can do what they want, but a public university should be careful not to preference foreign students without being fiscally fair. Example; two medical students both transfer to a public institution. One is a foreign citizen, the other a U.S. citizen. The foreign student transfers schools in-state and gets in-state reduced tuition because that student attended undergraduate school in that state (even though that student is not a citizen and has never worked in that state and may in fact go back to country of origin). Other U.S. citizen student transfers schools because of a marriage to a citizen of that state who has been paying taxes to that state for years. That student received a bill that was fives times greater than the foreign student because that student was considered an out of state resident. How fair is that? It's OK to be diverse and try to up the quality, but it is not always a quality issue. Be careful not to give unfair economic advantage to the foreign student?"
  • puff3456, commenter. Economist Online Debate Series. December 12, 2007 16:41 - "First, the national government has the duty to make decisions on immigration quotas or the lack of such quotas. Second, nearly all institutions (public and private) receive tax payer funding and as such have a duty to enroll an appropriate proportion of said tax payers and their dependents, i.e. citizens and legal residents. Third, the institutions then within the nationally set immigration quotas may enroll an appropriate number of international students at an unsubsidized rate for the purpose of adding value to the tax payers investment. A nationality diverse student body may provide some benefit to the enrolled student and may better prepare a student for ongoing globalisation, however, individual nationalities must maintain their own sense of national pride and national focus to be successful as a country, turning institutions into micro UN bodies is a recipe for disaster."
  • TaxedMom, commenter. Economist Online Debate Series. December 12, 2007 18:11 - "I voted CON. As long as my tax money supports our higher learning centers, I certainly would resent my children not being given priority over foreign students for the same position. If a school is completely privately funded then, of course, they can pick and choose students as they wish, although there must be consistent security standards enforced to protect the public. The only way U.S. taxpayers would support a scheme that could deny their children an educational opportunity at a subsidized school is if they are unaware of it, which is why there is not more transparency overall."
  • WakeForestEconomist, commenter. The Economist Online Debate Series. December 12, 2007 23:19 - "I really wish that foreign students could attend any university in the world that they like, regardless of their nationality; however, I think there are important ramifications to consider regarding their growing proportions in American universities. Unfortunately, the opportunity cost of accepting an additional foreign student is rejecting an avid domestic student who will miss out on attending the school of his dreams. In the most selective of American universities (primarily private), where less than 30% of the applicant pool is accepted, it seems that there is little difference in ability level between foreigners who are accepted and domestic students on the brink who wind up rejected. Perhaps, the foreign student will contribute to the university�€™s diversity. If increased diversity is expected to better the domestic student, one less student (the one whose place was taken by a foreign student) is able to enjoy this benefit. I think there is a happy medium, where there are enough foreign students to exchange ideas with their domestic counterparts. I believe the success of leading state schools like UVA, UCLA, and UNC should be significantly credited to their ability to maintain a strict percentage (usually around 15%) of brilliant out-of-staters to assist the much larger population of in-state students. Both public and private universities can better serve domestic students by maintaining a similar ratio when considering foreign applicants."
  • GoldenBear, commenter. Economist Online Debate Series. December 12, 2007 11:55 - "I think the argument does turn on the word 'everywhere' and the implication that *all* governments and universities should compete. If the statement is not qualified, then we must lean toward the Con side of the argument, since there are undoubtedly institutions (like community colleges and many public universities) whose mission dictates a focus on the needs of local citizens and for whom the contributions of foreign students would be outweighed by the social cost of lost enrollment slots for locals or other resources that would otherwise have been deployed in support of the core mission."
  • DrGeneNelson, commenter. Economist Online Debate. December 11, 2007 11:35 - ..."Caltech Vice Provost David Goodstein summarized the problem in a 1993 American Scholar article "The American taxpayer (both state and federal) is supporting extremely expensive research universities whose main educational purpose is to train students from abroad. When these students finish their educations, they either stay here, taking relatively high-paying jobs that could have gone to Americans, or they go home, taking our knowledge and our technology with them.... Congress and the public doesn't seem to have noticed that, while largely ignoring our own students, we are putting our money and our best talent into training our economic competitors. Just wait until this one hits the fan."...
  • Craig Downing, commenter. The Economist Online Debate Series. December 11, 2007 18:07 - "While governments and universities of wealthier countries should support the education of students from less wealthy countries it is important for governments and universities to recognize that the connection in terms of economic and social welfare benefits to their constituent communities be maintained. For example don't let a morally pure approach deprive your constituency of leadership and other benefits that they connect with, relate to and feel is respresentative."
  • JD, commenter. Economist Online Debate Series. December 11, 2007 22:07 - "As one of the FEW American graduate students to post on this site, I must bring up another concern: limited seats. Getting into graduate schools is increasingly difficult. Every year it becomes more competitive due to limited availability of seats as more and more Americans apply. At the same time, schools are committing a greater number of seats to foreign students. That would be fine if every American had an opportunity to attend their first school of choice -- but we don't. It seems to me that the needs of native students should first be met before looking overseas."


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