Archive for Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Officials say immigration bill would help KU recruit international grad students, faculty

July 2, 2013


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The sweeping immigration bill approved by the U.S. Senate last week might face difficulty in the House of Representatives, but among officials in Kansas University’s International Programs office, it’s being greeted with cheers.

That’s because, alongside a route to citizenship for 11 million unauthorized immigrants and increased border security, the bill also calls for immigration changes that officials say would help KU and other research universities compete for the most talented graduate students and researchers in the world.

“For us to remain viable as a research university, we have to be an international research university,” said Chuck Olcese, KU’s director of international student services. And some of the bill’s provisions would help KU and other American universities keep a global focus, he said.

The bill would give international graduate students in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math — a direct, quick path to permanent U.S. residency via a green card after graduation. And foreigners who get Ph.D.s at American universities in any field would have an easier route to a green card than they have now.

That means KU, and other U.S. universities, might have an easier time recruiting talented graduate students and faculty from other countries.

“It’s a very important thing in being able to hire the best and brightest,” said Keeli Nelson, a senior adviser who helps KU faculty and staff with immigration and visa issues in KU’s International Programs office.

Right now, Nelson works with some KU staff and researchers who must wait “years and years and years” for permanent U.S. residency, depending on their country of origin.

Because of immigration quotas, people from India just now becoming eligible for green cards have been waiting since 2004, Nelson said. Chinese nationals have been waiting since 2008.

The bill would allow foreigners with advanced degrees from the United States to bypass those quotas.

“You have to be able to hire international talent when you can find it,” Nelson said.

The law currently allows international students to work in their field for one year in the United States after graduation. At that point, they can apply for a temporary work visa, but they often must be chosen in a lottery to do so.

Those who get jobs working for universities are exempt from the lottery, but even then, it might not be an appealing option for them to remain in the United States. Without being a permanent resident, they might not be able to receive certain federal research grants. And their spouses might be unable to work.

Those changes would make American universities much more competitive for academic talent, Olcese said, especially because the United Kingdom and Australia have actually tightened restrictions on their work visa programs in recent years. Canada’s immigration system, on the other hand, gives preference to researchers when awarding permanent residence, Nelson said, and some KU staff and faculty have considered moving there for that reason.

International students already made up about 16 percent of KU’s graduate enrollment in fall 2012, compared with about 6 percent of its undergraduate enrollment. And KU will only need to increase its international focus if leaders want to boost its global profile, Olcese said.

“The world’s just much more connected, and so if we’re going to be players as a university, even in the United States, let alone in the world, we’ve got to have this perspective of how we’re connected internationally,” Olcese said.


Bobby Burch 4 years, 11 months ago

Legislation that would help educational opportunities in Kansas? Expect a big no from Moran, Roberts, Jenkins, Yoder, Huelskamp and Pompeo.

orbiter 4 years, 11 months ago

The mission of KU, which is less than 1/4 funded by taxpayers, is available here:

Shelley Bock 4 years, 11 months ago

Big B, the mission of KU right now is to survive. The State of Kansas is diminishing support. KU must find paying students where they can be found. Bringing in foreign grad students makes perfect sense, since the Kansas legislature only supports in decreasing amounts. KU needs to find students who can pay the freight, so if the State doesn't care to support KU, then bring back some of that oil and import money that's been staying overseas. As Kansas support goes down, look outside of the State.

I recently studied in an unique topic in UK and paid significant sums for a year. UK and EU students paid far less than I. The university was overjoyed to have students from US, Iran, China and Asia in general who weren't given any breaks. I was a cash cow for the university.

So, why can't KU bring in students who'll pay, unlike the "good taxpayers of Kansas"? Someday, they might even become presidents of their country....can you say Colombia?

Shelley Bock 4 years, 11 months ago

Maybe the Kansas legislature and governor should think about that before they cut, cut, cut the KU budget.

Robert Rauktis 4 years, 11 months ago

You are quite right that you were a cash cow. The UK uni's even "selectively" offer courses in such things as TESOL to select countries as they have oil or Walmart dollars to fritter and the pedigree looks good back home. The equivalent of the East Coast school for parent's cocktail party and dodgier than a North Carolina athletic course.

But what you fail to mention is that many of these "students" just happen to get lost (even in GB) and disappear into the netherworld of services and desperation. None of them go home once they've seen the lights of Par-ee, errr London.

So it it the usual immigration up and down swing. Bad for some who fear cheap competition for their jobs and good for the IT labor market to in California to trickle down to the fly-over states. I don't really believe they will get lost in the underground, but that is a consideration. The good news there, Cesar Milan; the bad, disaffected Chechnyans,

As an alternative, maybe they could rent AFH and Memorial stadium back to Kansas Athletics, Inc.? Now that's a cash cow!

John Hamm 4 years, 11 months ago

No amnesty. No to Illegal Immigration.

patkindle 4 years, 11 months ago

nothing personal this is just about bidness they need all the students they can get for more funds
ku is all about the money just like ku sports rock chalk, all the way to the bank

JasonJ 4 years, 11 months ago

I have a summer class at KU totaling 41 students. Guess how many American in the class....................? 6 total out of 41.

35 Asian decent students. 1 student from African. 5 Americans. Look around KU's campus and you will immediately notice the Asian born students far outweigh any other ethnic group. African-Americans, Hispanics, Middle eastern (growing), and other representations of foreign born students are far outnumbered by Asian students. Therefore, the University has some serious language barrier issues that I've witnessed in some classes. Sure, the University needs to hire more Professors and PhD students to better represent the current demographics on campus.

More importantly, the University needs to do something to attract more Hispanic and African American students in my opinion. By no means am I insinuating they lower the entrance standards. At this point, I'm not sure what KU can do to attract a more diverse student population.

I know this may offend some, but hands down without question, most of the Asian students I've had contact with are more serious and dedicated to their education than a lot of the American students on campus. This in itself could cause much debate on this board.

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