Number of foreign students continues to decline at UNR | NevadaAppeal.com

Number of foreign students continues to decline at UNR

Associated Press

RENO – The number of foreign students and scholars applying to the University of Nevada, Reno continues a dramatic decline that began after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, officials said.

Applications for the fall semester that begins in August are down more than 30 percent compared with last year, said Susan Bender, director of UNR’s Office of International Students and Scholars.

“There’s a perception overseas that, since Sept. 11, it’s more difficult now to get a visa and that (America) is not as welcoming,” Bender said.

Students from other countries now must undergo background checks and a personal interview before they are granted a student visa to study in the United States.

“Some students attending the university said the process was smooth, but one international student from Russia had to wait six months because of the technology alert list,” Bender said.

“If you’re studying in a field considered potentially hazardous, they do an FBI check to make sure you have no criminal record.”

Xin Yu, 31, a UNR postdoctoral scholar, hasn’t visited her family in China since she came to Reno in August 2001 because of potential problems trying to get back into the Unites States.

“It’s getting worse to get a visa in China,” Yu said. “Right now, if we go back to visit our families, it could take three to six months for a background check, which delays our research here.

“I know there is a UNR student who went back to China to visit his family,” she said. “He is a student in civil engineering and in the end he came back. But he got a background check for almost six months, and that delayed his graduation.”

Advisers who assist foreign students said they understand the need to protect the country against terrorists. But time-consuming background checks and added fees charged to track students while they’re here could discourage those students, who are being recruited by other countries.

Canada, Great Britain and Australia are among the most aggressive countries courting international students, who spend billions on tuition and living expenses, Bender said.

Foreign students and scholars contributed $61 million in tuition, living expenses and related costs to Nevada’s economy during 2002-03, according to a report published by the Institute of International Education in Washington, D.C.

That includes about $15.7 million to UNR. Nationally, international students pumped almost $13 billion into the economy.

International students receive nearly 75 percent of their funds from family or other sources outside the United States