Post-study work competition could shift US policy, says IIE head

Allan Goodman tells THE that need to keep pace with other nations could push issue up political agenda

三月 29, 2022
Mens 800m sprint second semi-final race to illustrate Post-study work competition could shift US policy, says IIE headate
Source: Getty

The post-study work offer available in the US is likely to move up the political agenda ahead of the next presidential election given how other countries are competing in this area, according to the president of the Institute of International Education.

Allan Goodman told Times Higher Education that post-university employment was becoming a key area of competition for the major recruiting nations of international students as they realised the need for skilled migrants to fuel their economies.

Although he was “not worried” in general about international student recruitment in the US – which he predicted would “surge” this year as the country emerges from the pandemic – he said there was likely to be continued jostling for position among countries on post-study work.

Recent months and years have seen some nations boost their offer, among them the UK, which reinstated its post-study work visa, and Australia, which has been reviewing its policies in a bid to catch up on international recruitment. Canada, meanwhile, has often been seen as a leader in the area with its post-graduation work permit programme.

Students in the US on an F-1 visa can take a work-related route known as optional practical training for a year after graduating – and potentially extend this in science disciplines – but it must be a job related to their degree subject. Other employment routes such as the H-1B visa are sometimes seen as more onerous and require employer sponsorship.

Arguing that countries could “get very competitive” on their post-study work offers in the future, Dr Goodman said nations that could in essence “staple a green card” to a degree “are going to have an edge in the war for talent”.

Therefore, he continued, it was “not out of the realm of possibility” that candidates in the 2024 presidential election “will say we need to consider schemes” similar to other countries’ because companies in the US, as in other developed economies, “need people from everywhere” as their populations age.

“It won’t determine elections, [but] I think it’s going to be more accepted than ever before in international education circles in the US.”

Meanwhile, Dr Goodman also said it was important for university leaders in the US to continue “speaking out” about the benefits of internationalisation in higher education and to “keep reminding people” that “all of society benefits when you keep your doors open to…the world”.

In particular, he stressed the need for US universities and the IIE to continue to help refugees, including those fleeing wars such as that in Ukraine, as well as continuing to recruit students from countries that might be out of political favour, like Russia.

“All through our history, we have taken students and encouraged the flow of students from everywhere,” he said. “I think it is in the interest of the whole world that academic doors stay open no matter what’s happening politically and what is taking place.”

The IIE is offering emergency funds to Ukrainian students on US campuses, who are believed to number about 1,700, and could also offer help to some of the 4,700 Russian students thought to be in the country, “many of whom will be stranded because they can’t get home or get funds from home”, Dr Goodman said.



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