Trump election is unsettling for future international students at UB

Nov 18, 2016

The University at Buffalo continues to rank among the top 25 universities for enrolling international students. Earlier this week, the Institute of International Education released its Open Doors report, ranking UB 21st among American colleges and universities for international enrollment. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley tells us UB is preparing to expand its recruitment effort.

University at Buffalo, North campus in Amherst, NY.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"We've tried to attract more Canadian students and students from emerging countries like Vietnam and Burma and we’ve had some success,” said Dr. Stephen Dunnett, Professor and UB's Vice Provost for International Education.  

New students from the start of the fall semester on UB's South campus this year.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Many of the students have traditionally come from China, but Dunnett says those numbers have declined as China develops more higher education opportunities and Chinese students seek other countries for their education.

“This is not a rejection of the United States, it’s just a maturing of Chinese education, and even though there is a growing middle class in China, they have other options besides the United States,” explained Dunnett.

UB continues working to diversify its population. Recruitment efforts have grown in Latin American countries with more students now coming in from Brazil.

Dunnett told WBFO News they now have permission to begin recruitment in Iran.

“There’s a historical memory — at one time UB had several thousand Iranian students here during the period of the former government under the Shah and then we went to zero, but you know those are some of the parents of the students now. Parents remember their days in Buffalo and we now have almost 150 Iranian students, and they just came on their own and they are mostly graduate students and they’re really good quality, so now Iran will allow us to recruit there, in the past they wouldn’t allow it,” Dunnett stated.    

UB's North campus in Amherst, NY.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Dunnett emphasized they're working to keep a steady percentage of international students to offer a global perspective. But he told us that with the presidential election of Donald Trump, some international students who intended to come to UB might be changing their minds.

“Unfortunately, some students have indicated to us that they’re uncertain about whether they would like to come here. These are students we have already admitted and so some of them are applying to Canada and Australia, so that makes us a little bit sad. My answer to them is ‘Why don’t you wait and see?’ Muslim students in particular are nervous, but you know campaign rhetoric is one thing, and what the policies are we will have to wait and see,” said Dunnett.

New students at the start of the fall semester on UB's South campus.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

An international population at UB is important in providing a global perspective for students. Dunnett said it actually attracts American students.

“You know, when we talk in high schools we say, ‘Come to UB and we will give you the world.’ That global nature of UB is very attractive and adds to the educational experience you receive here,” said Dunnett.