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Highlights from Higher Ed: Visa Rule Reversals, International Students, Completion Rates and Unemployment

International students’ contributions to the economy fell by $1.8 billion last year

The amount of money pumped into the U.S. economy by international students in 2019-20 declined by $1.8 billion on a year-over-year basis, to $38.7 billion, as calculated by NAFSA: Association of International Educators. “The 4.4% decline was the first drop in the more than two decades that NAFSA has been calculating economic impact data. The number of jobs created or supported by international students fell, too. Both economic disruptions coincide with a 43% decline in new international students this fall — a staggering loss, which has fundamentally affected the colleges and communities that would normally host them.” California received the largest economic benefit from international students during the 2019-20 academic year ($6.6 billion), followed by New York ($5.3 billion) and Massachusetts ($3.2 billion).

Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

Judge strikes down two Trump administration rules restricting skilled-worker visas

In a decision that could have a trickle-down effect for colleges and universities that depend on international students to fill their seats and coffers, a federal judge threw out two Trump administration rules “designed to drastically curtail the number of visas issued each year to skilled foreign workers. The changes applying to the H-1B visa program announced in October include imposing salary requirements on companies employing skilled overseas workers and limits on specialty occupations.” The government had said the rules were necessary due to pandemic-related job losses. The judge, however, ruled that the government failed to comply with transparency requirements while introducing the new rules and could not blame the pandemic for their timing. “The COVID-19 pandemic is an event beyond defendants’ control, yet it was within defendants’ control to take action earlier than they did,” the judge wrote.

Source: The Associated Press

College grads have lower-than-average unemployment rate

The percentage of college graduates who were out of work in November was lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.7%, while the number of unemployed individuals who only have a high school diploma was higher than average. “Among college graduates age 25 and older with just a Bachelor’s degree, the unemployment rate was 4.7% in November 2020, compared with 9.4% in April 2020 and 1.9% in November 2019. For high school graduates with no college age 25 and older, the unemployment rate was 7.4% in November 2020, compared with 17.0% in April 2020 and 3.5% in November 2019.” Among those in the 16-to-24 age group, 6.6% with a Bachelor’s degree or more advanced degree were unemployed, compared with 13.1% of high school graduates with no college degree.


Completion rates remain essentially flat

The national six-year completion rate has plateaued, although it declined slightly at community colleges. Overall, the number of students who enrolled in college in 2014 and completed their degree within six years rose by 0.3%, to 60.1%. Adult completion rates were on the upswing, while the rate among traditional-age students remained flat. “Increases in the six-year completion rate had been slowing for years. Between the 2010 and 2011 cohorts, the improvement was 2.2 percentage points. That fell to 1.4 percentage points between the 2012 and 2013 cohorts.” Community colleges experienced a drop of 0.5 percentage points. Public four-year college rates rose by 0.7 percentage points, and private nonprofit four-year completion rates increased by 0.2 percentage points.

Source: Inside Higher Ed