GME: Today & Tomorrow Spring 2020

Coronavirus’ Implications for Higher Ed and Innovation How China’s Cancellation of GRE and GMAT Exams Could Impact U.S. Universities OPINION

By Toby McChesney senior assistant dean of graduate business programs for the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University and chair of the BusinessCAS Advisory Board

students at U.S. institutions comprise 33.7% of America’s total international students. That proportion is even more substantial at University of California, Berkeley, where China accounts for 40.4% of all international enrollment. But why does international enrollment matter? Can domestic students not fill the same classroom seats vacated by their peers worldwide, including from China? In actuality, international students must not be disregarded. NAFSA: Association of International Educators reports that international students studying at U.S. institutions contribute nearly $41 billion to this nation’s economy and support 458,290 jobs — including a $6.8 billion economic contribution and 74,814 jobs in California alone. For every seven international students enrolled in America, three jobs are created and then supported by spending, which occurs in sectors such as higher education, accommodation, dining, retail, transportation, telecommunications and health insurance. Further, international students embark on careers which meet America’s fastest-growing occupational clusters at disproportionately high rates. The Open Doors survey reveals that 21.1% of international students are enrolled in engineering programs while 18.6% study math and science, aligning with rising demand in the U.S. workforce for STEM professionals. The impact of threats to international enrollment is hardly limited to tangible factors. What cannot be measured is the vibrancy that our campuses, and by extension, their local and regional communities lose when they are deprived of diverse and global perspectives from China and elsewhere.

China’s cancellation of February’s GRE and GMAT graduate entry exams portends a concerning outlook for international student enrollment in graduate programs. Although data released by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) this month shows increased graduate applications and enrollments at U.S. universities for the first time since fall 2016, the Graduate Management Admissions Council’s (GMAC) most recent application trends report documents a steep 13.7% decline in international applications to American business programs from 2018 to 2019. For as long as China’s cancellation of standardized tests persists, business schools and all graduate programs will lose countless applicants from America’s largest feeder country for international students. According to the latest Open Doors enrollment survey, the nearly 370,000 Chinese While much discussion surrounding China’s coronavirus outbreak has centered on the fallout for America’s public health, trade relationships and corporate giants, the deep implications for higher education are also impossible to ignore.



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