Higher education leaders voice concerns about Supreme Court travel ban ruling

Following this week’s 5-to-4 Supreme Court ruling upholding the Trump administration’s travel ban, higher education leaders expressed concern about foreign-enrollment declines and the message this most recent decision sends to international students, Diverse Issues in Higher Education reports.

The ban, now in its third iteration, applies to seven countries, which are collectively home to eight percent of the world’s Muslim population. The Chronicle of Higher Education notes that although the order directly affects a small percentage of international students studying in the U.S., “concerns about the ban have reverberated far and deep,” especially with many institutions already reporting a decline in the number of international student enrollments.

The ban’s destructive impact on higher education had long placed prominently in arguments against the travel restrictions, the Chronicle reports. In dissenting, both Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor and Justice Stephen G. Breyer noted the potential harm it poses to colleges, students, and scholars. The American Council on Education (ACE) echoed the warning, saying “the travel ban contributes to the perception that this country is no longer a welcoming place for study and research by the world’s best and brightest international scholars and students.” It also “puts at risk the network of learning, research, and education that makes American higher education the envy of the world,” ACE said. NAFSA: Association of International Educators, estimates that international students contribute nearly $37 billion to the U.S. economy and support over 450,000 U.S. jobs.

Association of American Universities President Mary Sue Coleman also called out the risk to American economic competitiveness, asserting that “our global leadership role would not be possible without the extraordinary flow of international talent, drawn here by academic opportunity and American values.”

Georgetown’s commitment to an international community

In response to the administration’s January 2017 executive order establishing the travel ban, Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia reinforced the value of international community members to the school and American society:

We have been international since the days of our founding. Georgetown is 228 years old—founded in 1789, eight months before the republic itself. In our first classes, a quarter of our students came from other countries. Our first course catalogues in the 1790s were in three languages. Our international character is integral to our identity as a University, to the free exchange of ideas, and to our ability to support all of our students, staff, and faculty in contributing to our global community.

Read President DeGioia’s 2017 letter in full here.

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