May 17, 2021
This issue brief summarizes results from a series of surveys evaluating U.S. voters' attitudes and perceptions regarding international students. Three iterations of the survey were administered in March 2017, December 2019, and February 2021 in partnership with the Winston Group and with support from the Charles Koch Foundation.Key findings from the surveys include:A clear majority of those surveyed believe international students make significant academic and diplomatic contributions and have a positive impact on domestic peers.For example, 58 percent of respondents indicated they believe that "international students are valuable additions to campuses because they bring intellectual talent and energy to campuses."The belief that students from abroad "take seats" from U.S. students persists; however, there is growing confidence in international students' academic qualifications and preparedness.There is prevailing sentiment that international students should be "encouraged" to study in the United States. However, there is a lack of support for a concerted effort to grow the number of international students here.There is support for international students remaining in the U.S. after completing their studies.Overall impressions of the favorability of international students have not diminished since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic; however, there is interest in ensuring that incoming international students—and all travelers from abroad—do not spread the virus.Though a minority view, there is some level of concern that international students are improperly vetted or do not adhere to visa regulations.When it comes to policy implications, the issue brief recommends actions for policymakers to take to strengthen and restore international student enrollment to pre-pandemic levels, and to facilitate institutions' ability to enroll the number of students they can effectively support.The issue brief also pulls from ACE's 2021 report Toward Greater Inclusion and Success: A New Compact for International Students to make recommendations for refining campus practices.