NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

College Officials Are Concerned About Possible Restrictions On What Foreign Students Study

April 18, 2002

A week after the Bush administration tightened access to student visas in the fight against terrorism, higher education officials are making it clear they want a say in what courses of study foreign students might be barred from pursuing.

In a letter to the administration yesterday, three major associations representing independent colleges and research universities said any controls on foreign students should come when consulates screen visa candidates for entry to the U.S. -- not after they arrive.

  • A presidential directive on "Combating Terror Through Immigration Policies," issued in late October, called for stricter controls on student visas, and barring "certain international students from receiving education and training in sensitive areas, including areas of study with direct application to the development and use of weapons of mass destruction."
  • A governmental interagency group, under the auspices of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, is at work on the guidelines.
  • A spokesman for the Office of Homeland Security said that if students who had said they wanted to study liberal arts, for example, suddenly start taking courses in nuclear engineering "that's something that will raise a red flag, and we'll go and take a look at them."

Source: Diana Jean Schemo, "Plans on Foreign Students Worry College Officials," New York Times, April 18, 2002.


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