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Insourcing of Foreign Students & Engineers Top U.S. Priority

Beginning July 1, 2006, it will be more difficult for US students to both qualify for and borrow federally subsidized student loans, due to legislation President Bush signed in February 2006. Known as Called the budget deficit reduction bill, it wipes out $12 billion from the federal student loan program. Interest rates will climb to a flat rate of 6.8% for a student applying for a federal loan, called the Stafford Loan Program, with a capped rate of 8.5% for parents applying on behalf of their child, called PLUS loans, also subject to additional variable rates. Many parents are considering home equity loans as an alternative, which offer much lower borrowing interest rates.

But with college tuition fees rising every year, sometimes more than double the rate of inflation, it is becoming increasingly impossible for the middle class to afford a college education. With the federal loan limit for years now remaining at $20,000.00 per school year, it takes a lot to apply for private bank loans in addition to the federal loan. Many students take up to seven years to earn an undergraduate degree because they must work full-time in low-paying jobs to pay tuition and living expenses, delaying their rise into the permanent workforce .

As many as 400,000 American students drop out of higher education each year, deterred by tuition fees and fear of inability to repay college loans, according to the Department of Education. In recent years, due to falling interest rates, students have been able to consolidate their student loans to reduce previous loan rates. With the new legislation, the fixed rate will prevent them from doing so in the future, regardless of further interest rate cuts.

The dilemma of higher education in the United States, however, is quite complex and multifaceted, and universities have already begun to look to other resources to fill their coffers when going abroad. This brings us to the current immigration bill making its way through the U.S. Senate, which is a much more liberal version than the U.S. House of Representatives bill passed in late 2005. Buried in the text of the bill of the Senate is a restructuring of the student visa process, which was largely slowed down after 9/11, 2001 and finally placed under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003.

In April 2005, President Bush met with King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. At that time, they reached an agreement to encourage more Saudi students to pursue their undergraduate studies in the United States. Currently, around 5,000 Saudi students are studying at US colleges and universities and 15,000 applications are ongoing, although confirmation of the exact numbers is one. crucial task, even impossible to find.

The deal King Abdullah offered to President Bush was to allow 5,000 students a year to study in the United States, with all tuition paid for by the Saudi government. The scholarship program, which was not publicly announced by either the White House or the Saudi embassy, ​​was an attempt by the Saudi government to fast-track the student visa program that the administration has now agreed to.

of significance, and publicly disclosed and praised by Maura Harty, Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs for the State Department, during her participation in the Summit of American University Presidents on International Education, – a two-day forum to promote International Education and hosted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in January 2006 – is that the system to expedite the student visa application process has been a top priority since 9/11. She noted that 500 new consular posts have been added since 9/11; negotiations of extended reciprocal agreements reducing the number of times a student must renew or reapply for a visa; directing all U.S. embassies and consulates to place students and exchange visitors first in line when scheduling visa interviews.

It should also be noted that in the 2004-2005 academic year, 565,039 foreign students were enrolled in institutions of higher education in the United States, which means that there are now far fewer places for American students when applying to college. But Harty adds, “We don’t want to lose a single international student and we don’t want them to miss the start of school, which is why the Department of State has made student visa processing and exchange visitor a priority at each post”.

And alarmingly in a post-9/11 world, Harty says that “some 97.5% of visa applications are processed within two days, and the selection process for the 2.5% of visa applicants subject to special screening requirements for security reasons has been streamlined, usually takes a week to two weeks.” If true, Americans can only dream that other government services have been so quick and efficient for them. In contrast, US students applying for federal loans must wait months to find out the status of their applications and whether or not they will be able to afford the school year’s tuition.

But at the heart of the proposed expansion of the student visa program is another issue embedded in the Senate immigration bill that would dramatically increase the number of authorized H1-B visas, which are awarded to foreign workers for work. in the American industry on a so-called temporary. base. Beginning in fiscal 2006, the number of such visas was limited to 65,000, but an additional 20,000 were eventually added, in the 11th hour, for foreigners with US degrees and doctorates. programs. In the new bill, the measures include doubling the number of temporary skilled worker visas to 115,000 per year with the option of increasing the cap by another 20% each subsequent year.

And in a new visa category known as the F-4 visa, students pursuing higher education in science, technology, engineering, or math would be granted permanent residence in the United States if they find employment in their field. . They would only be required to pay a fee of $1,000.00. The rallying cries of figures such as Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy have made it clear that they desperately need the government to increase the number of H1-B visas. But saying, as Microsoft’s director of federal affairs, Marland Buckner, says, “It’s in Microsoft’s best interest, and we believe in the best interest of national competitiveness from an innovation perspective, to bring as many smart people in the United States as possible. “Bill Gates wants no restrictions on H1-B visas.

But according to Ron Hira, vice president of IEEE-USA, an organization representing 225,000 electrical and computer engineers, says: “Many American companies don’t even bother to hire Americans because they can find foreigners willing to work more hours for less pay. But with business leaders and scientists focusing almost exclusively on relaxing the laws in order to acquire foreign talent, they seem to be turning their backs on the Americans-first education needed to sustain a thriving economy and innovative for Americans.

Just like every other sector of our government as well as the commercial industry, legislators and CEOs are myopically focused on the bottom line, while America’s education system is being systematically abandoned and essentially dismantled. By failing to provide future livelihoods for future generations of Americans in the name of globalism, the United States could find itself incurably lagging behind, not just in innovation, but in basic living standards. How can we expect our students to compete with such a program if they are no longer the top priority?

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