For international students, U.S. jobs getting more difficult to attain

BY ASHLEY HAUGO | APRIL 01, 2009 7:40 AM

With the tarnish of a bleak economy, the United States hasn’t lost all its glitter for international students.

“[The United States] has, in fact, much better opportunities for international students compared with any other country,” said Chandramouli Krishnan, a UI Ph.D. student in physical therapy and rehabilitation science and a native of India.

This optimistic attitude toward the United States counters worries America may be losing some of its brightest talent because a sour economy might drive foreigners away, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Chronicle recently reported the results of a survey of 1,224 international students conducted by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

According to the report, 92 percent of Chinese students and 85 percent of Indian students remain in the United States at least five years after graduating, but the survey found 10 percent of Chinese students and 6 percent of Indian students remain in the United States permanently.

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While it’s too early to know whether these numbers will materialize into significant trends, Scott King, the director of UI’s Office of International Students and Scholars, said the UI is still an “easy sell” to international students.

King noted applications at the undergraduate level are double what they were in 2008 and acceptance rate is three times the previous year’s numbers.

“We are looking at the largest undergraduate class ever,” King said, citing a 44 percent increase in the class population from fall 2007 to fall 2008.

“What’s really nice is we’re not just getting more applications, but we’re getting more qualified applications, which makes us very happy,” he said.

While Krishnan admits the strapped economy does not come without additional challenges for international students and workers, he said he remains confident conditions will improve and thinks international students will wait out the storm.

“I presume that people will try their best to stay over here before they take a job anywhere else,” Krishnan said.

Despite the strained U.S. dollar, international students may not find their home country much more merciful.

“The truth is it’s not better in India even. This current condition is not limited to the United States It’s a global phenomenon now,” admitted Vaibhav Yadav, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering from India.

Nori Ueno, a UI Ph.D. student in microbiology with roots in Japan, said returning home may be not be much of an improvement.

“I might just be shooting myself in the foot if I move back to Japan and see that its in a very similar situation as the United States is in,” Ueno said.

From the dollars and cents side, Alexandra Nica, a Ph.D. student in economics, agrees the opportunities in the United States are still more optimistic than her home country of Romania.

“We’ll just have to wait and see I guess,” she said with a full-shoulder shrug.

And that’s a sentiment that transcends nationality.

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