Episode 46: Translating Support for International Students Into Policy


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Aired July 1, 2021

The hosts dive into the complicated issues facing international students who are hoping to return to campus this fall and why many may not be able to return at all. Our guest, David Winston of the Winston Group, lays out the data around public attitudes toward international students and how leaders can make the case for the positive contributions they make to the U.S. economy and on our campuses.

Here are some of the links and references from this week’s show:

From Introduction:

The Minds We Need

National Science Foundation for the Future Act

Statement by President Joe Biden on House Passage of the National Science Foundation for the Future Act and the Department of Energy Science for the Future Act

From Conversation with David Winston:

Public Generally Supports International Students Despite Security and Competition Concerns, ACE Survey Finds

International Student Inclusion and Success: Public Attitudes, Policy Imperatives, and Practical Strategies

American Attitudes Toward International Students Are Warm but Wary
The Chronicle of Higher Education (sub. req.) | May 14, 2021


 Read this episode's transcript

Jon Fansmith: Hello, and welcome to dotEDU, the higher education policy podcast from the American Council on Education. We're going to be joined a little bit later on our podcast by David Winston, president of The Winston Group. And before he joins us, I am joined by my co-host Sarah Spreitzer. We are without Mushtaq this week. It's like old times, right Sarah?

Sarah Spreitzer: It is, it is. Although Mushtaq will be on for the conversation with David.

Jon Fansmith: Oh, well, that's good. And I will not be, so we're swapping places. It's a little more disjointed podcast this week than usual.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah. Well, I feel like it's the week before the fourth, everybody's traveling, everybody's wrapping things up before they head out of town. I know Jon, you're working on a... You drew the short straw and doing a letter this week with everybody out on vacation and I think that's around broadband issues, right?

Jon Fansmith: Yeah. Two letters this week.

Sarah Spreitzer: Oh sorry, two letters.

Jon Fansmith: And just on that point about people's attitudes, I had a call with someone yesterday and they signed off by telling me enjoy the long weekend. And it was Monday, we're recording this on a Tuesday.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah, I'm definitely feeling that also, this is like a non-week.

Jon Fansmith: People are definitely living a better life than I am right now, but I do have two letters that I'm very excited about. I think our members are very excited about, the first one you mentioned is broadband and that's sort of a catch all term. But this is something that I think is really interesting. We've been working with a lot of groups on addressing the digital divide that students face on college campuses, but also addressing this institutional divide that not every institution has the same level of broadband access or the resources to do that. And that there's a real need, not just to make sure that institutions themselves are connected to high speed research quality internet, but that they serve as anchors of their local community. And we've talked a little bit about this on the podcast. There was some money in a relief bill that was passed at the end of the year, that would help HBCUs use in minority serving institutions, in that role is so-called anchor institutions for their community. But also a limited program that would help low-income students get $50 a month for internet access. So just talking with these other groups, there's been proposals that have been put forward around a real investment in broadband infrastructure for higher ed that would help students and institutions. And you can actually go and see the report and the executive summary at the website, themindsweneed.org. And there'll be a link to that in the show notes, I'm sure. But we sent a letter up to the Hill basically saying, look, there's a lot of information and here's the problem. Here's the way Congress can solve it. It's particularly appropriate at this moment because Congress and the administration are discussing what an infrastructure bill will look like. And as part of that infrastructure bill, there seems to be bipartisan agreement on spending at least $65 billion on broadband infrastructure. So this is our attempt really to show that with a relatively modest investment of that money, you can do something pretty amazing in terms of improving educational opportunities for low-income students, making sure that all institutions have the same access to the quality of internet connection they need, as well as building out and helping their local communities and particularly the communities they're going to help that this would benefit the rural communities and underserved urban areas. So it's really a win-win-win across the board and we're just hoping to raise attention to that.

Sarah Spreitzer: And thank goodness it's finally infrastructure week. And I guess you probably have a lot of great examples, right? From COVID because we heard about those students driving to the parking lot of their community college to work from their laptops in their cars because they didn't have wireless at home. And so, COVID really shone the light on the issues there.

Jon Fansmith: Yeah. And it's across the board. And one of the things that's been sort of fascinating about this for me at least has been talking to the campus people who handle these kinds of things and the range of stories. I mean, you touched on it, right? The idea of putting Wi-Fi extenders out into the community to carry the institution's signal, putting into parking lots so students could drive in, in COVID, but the degree of complexity, the problem, the size of the problem, there's estimates that 20% of all post-secondary students don't have an internet capable device. So you think about everybody going online, if you don't have a laptop or a tablet or something that allows you to access those courses and then the institution you're sitting at, doesn't have the resources to provide that with you and doesn't necessarily have the same strength of connection as other institutions might, whereas it's necessary for that. It's a problem, right? And students dispersed all across the country from residential institution, sort of inequitable access there. There's a lot to do and again, Congress can do a lot to this. They've already done some things that were sort of half measures. We really think that there's a way that they can do this on a grander scale, like a real lasting long-term impact.

Sarah Spreitzer: And the idea is that, you're sending the letter up now so that when they take the infrastructure bill up after the July 4th recess, it will be on their list of priorities.

Jon Fansmith: Yep. And I think we, and our colleague associations we're joining the letter are continuing the work we've done reaching out to Congress and the administration just putting this on their radar, saying, this is a way to do what you're trying to do. The Biden administration proposed broadband infrastructure with a preference for nonprofit organizations, with a preference for connecting educational institution. So this is very much in line with what they're talking about. It's very much in line with what we know Congress would like to do. So it's really just a way of showing them, this is how you do it. And we're very hopeful that, that will be something included in any final infrastructure bill.

Sarah Spreitzer: So what you're saying is not a very heavy lift. So you decided to take on a second letter this week, to the Department of Education. What is the Department of Education doing before the July 4th recess?

Jon Fansmith: To be clear, we're asking for billions of dollars. So it's not a minor lift either. I don't want to oversell expectations here. Compared to other things-

Sarah Spreitzer: And they're actually getting an infrastructure bill. Yeah. And they are actually getting an infrastructure bill.

Jon Fansmith: That's right. The biggest hurdle may simply being... Yeah. Having an infrastructure bill. But you're right. No, there's the other letter I mentioned it before, the department of education a while ago, about a month ago, five weeks ago, put forward a very long list of topics that they are considering for negotiated rulemaking. And this is obviously, it's a lot in DC but basically what it is, is Department of Education saying there are things we would like to either write new regulations about or revise existing regulations on. And they put out a list of 14 topics all that fall under Title IV, which is federal financial aid. And really, as you can tell by 14 topics, it's a wide ranging list of things. So this week ACE, has been joined by a number of other associations. We're sending a letter that essentially offers our thoughts on the different topics they've proposed. Some of them are very high profile. Public Service Loan Forgiveness is a program that's obviously gotten a lot of attention for the struggles borrowers have had gaining the benefits that it purports to provide. Student loan repayments, something people obviously are very focused on and then things within the higher ed world that we pay a lot of attention to things like gainful employment and borrower defense history repayment that had been in many ways, very partisan, very high-profile contentious regulatory issues dating back from the Obama administration through the Trump administration. It's a big list. We sent about, I think our letter turned out being seven or eight pages long, all told. And it lays out basically broad community comments on this. All of these are complicated issues. We could and have in the past sent 8, 10, 30 page letters on any one of these topics.

But this is really an intense sort of just put a marker down. What will come out of this is, later in the summer, the department will look at all the public comments filed. They had public hearings last week where people submitted live testimony about their thoughts on the topics. This department will pull all this together, they'll decide the topics they want to address. And then they'll convene rule-making committees, and negotiate rulemaking committees of non-federal negotiator. So oftentimes people from associations like ACE, people from campuses, very often representatives of students or consumer advocacy groups, and those groups will then attempt to look at their topics and rewrite the rules in a way that there is consensus on it. It's a complicated process. There's rarely consensus. The Department is taking up again a huge number of issues, very complicated issues. They're doing at the same time that they're also looking at revising the Title IX regulations, a whole handful of other administration initiatives. This is their first year in office, right? It's a big task. I don't know that there's a lot of expectation. We'll be able to address all of these in a very rapid period of time, but certainly they have an ambitious agenda and they're moving forward on it and we're just helping to shape some of where they may go. We've offered a few other topics they didn't propose that we'd like to include, including of your favorite, Sarah.

Sarah Spreitzer: Section 117?

Jon Fansmith: Section 117. That's right. If maybe they do accept it, we can get you on the negotiating rulemaking committee.

Sarah Spreitzer: Oh my gosh. Fingers crossed. Well, it is complicated. It does take a long time, Jon, but it is usually impactful, especially during a time when we're not going to see a reauthorization of the higher education act. I mean, it is a way to change these programs in narrow ways that have really big impacts.

Jon Fansmith: Yeah. And that's so true. I mean, I think what is driving this is, there won't be a Higher Education Act reauthorization. So you have an administration that wants to do things, Title IXs, sort of the highest profile example. They want to change the regulations that the Trump administration put in, but on these Title IV issues, student loan repayment, public service loan forgiveness, a lot of them are things that are in HEA that frankly just aren't working the way the administration wants them to, or frankly in many cases, the public wants them to, but without any action by Congress to pass a new law and correct it, this is really the only option available. And so they're pursuing this aggressive regulatory approach just because there's not going to be new legislation that would address it. It's in the absence of HEA reauthorization that you see so many things on the list. Big and ambitious goals and we'll see how that goes.

Sarah Spreitzer: I was going to say jokes about Section 117, which I think is actually going to be a stretch for the Department because we do have legislation pending. So I don't think they would carry it out. I would love if they would finally negotiate rulemaking, but I think that's difficult when you have the pending legislation and since this wouldn't be a podcast without me talking about the China bill, Jon. Just wanted to let you know, because I know you were watching the house floor last night, that the NSF for the Future Act and the Department of Energy Science for the Future Act, passed last night by very wide margins in the house. The NSF bill was 345 to 67 votes. So this is the house version of the Endless Frontiers Act, which is what the US Innovation and Competition Act the bigger China bill was tied to. And so it's been interesting. I saw a lot of tweets last night that the Senate was very dramatic when they did their bill and it was all about counting the votes and are we going to get it through? And a lot of things added on to the Endless Frontier. So like, new programs for DARPA and new programs for NIS, new programs for NASA, the House's action so far have been narrowly focused on NSF and Department of Energy Office of Science, not a lot of interest in taking out the research security provisions and really looking at those core NSF programs. I think I saw somebody summed it up that Chairwoman Johnson from the House Science Committee is really interested in shoring up domestic STEM programs before looking at the foreign influence issue. And so, it's going to be interesting to see how they're going to conference these.

Jon Fansmith: Well, I was going to say so, because the house bill is a small part of what the Senate ultimately passed or is the House assembling a similar mega package in this area to what the Senate is doing? Or is there an actual chance that this piece may just move in and of itself where there seems to be consensus in both chambers on doing that?

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah. So what I've heard is that the House is going to try and pass things that they think that they can pass two pieces of the Senate bill, but not like a large package, like the Senate, and then they'll conference what they can. And then perhaps try and attach it to a larger bill in the fall, like they like to do with everything. So yeah, it's been interesting to watch the house. It's been a lot calmer I think than the Senate's work on this.

Jon Fansmith: You do seem less stressed and I've certainly seen far fewer emails on this subject from you.

Sarah Spreitzer: Well, I will know that they haven't taken up their Section 117 lines like it'd something else, so that's TBD right now.

Jon Fansmith: Well, they're going to shelve that because they'll see our comment on addressing it through regulations. And they'll say, there's no need to intervene at this point.

Sarah Spreitzer: That's right. And then they negotiate rulemaking and they won't have to do it.

Jon Fansmith: That could be a bet between us Sarah. Do we see ED address it regulations due to my letter, or do we see the Congress address through statute due to your work?

Sarah Spreitzer: I would probably take that bet.

Jon Fansmith: You actually know way more about this issue so that I think we need to take the letters.

Sarah Spreitzer: I think Congress will act before the Department, but that's just me.

Jon Fansmith: Well, speaking of this area, as we're looking to the fall and our institutions looking to fall, one of the big issues I think on institutions' minds is international students. And what we will see, not just in terms of enrollment, but the availability of international students. And we're a little bit coming from vaccinations and things like that. Sarah is a resident international students expert, what are you thinking?

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah, well, there has been a lot of discussion about the vaccine question, right? We keep getting press calls about it, and I think individual institutions are trying to be flexible just like when COVID started. Part of that reason is that there's different state mandates or different state rules about whether or not you can mandate the vaccine, which obviously impacts our public institutions. And then you have the complications of, there may be international students who have been vaccinated with the non-US approved vaccine. And they don't really want to be double vaccinated if they've already been vaccinated. So I think schools are putting different things in place about whether or not students will need to quarantine once they get to campus. Schools have also said if a student arrives and they're not vaccinated, they will work to get the student vaccinated. Obviously the US has a lot more vaccines than I think other countries. So they're trying to set up clinics for those international students when they do arrive here in the US.

Jon Fansmith: I know that's something that not just the vaccination schedules, but American attitudes towards international students is something that we're going to be talking about with our guests after the break. Right?

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah. We're going to be talking to David Winston, who's the president of The Winston Group and has worked with ACE for many years on survey data and research surrounding public attitudes. And we started working with David back in 2017 at the start of the Trump administration to figure out if there had been a shift in public attitudes towards international students. International students are so important to our campuses, to our educational, and our research enterprises on our campuses. And given the Trump administration's focus on immigration policy, like the travel ban, which wasn't directed completely towards international students, but was obviously having an impact, we wanted to figure out whether or not public attitudes had actually shifted. And David did some great work for us over the past couple of years to show that support for international students has really remained pretty high, close to 60%, and a lot of support for international students who graduate with an advanced degree, especially around STEM, for immigration policy to try and support those students, how do we keep them here so that they could join the workforce established companies, use the knowledge that they learned at the US institution to help the overall US economy. And then we just worked with David in February of 2021, to go out and do some survey work, coming out of the COVID era to see have attitudes shifted post COVID. At the start of COVID, we saw a huge drop in our international student enrollment. And I think some of that was due to the fact that international students just couldn't get here. And what we've seen now is, we have seen some indications that applications from international students are actually up for the fall of 2021, but I think it's too early to know what the enrollment figures are going to be. And so, David's data really helps us communicate with policy makers, but then also I think it's helpful for our presidents and chancellors when they're communicating with a larger audience perhaps in their campus community or with state legislatures.

Jon Fansmith: Well, that will make for, I am sure a fascinating conversation. I, like the rest of the audience we'll have to wait until it's actually released since I wasn't there for the conversation to hear it. But I am sure with your depth of knowledge and much talks, general well-meaning approach to life, it will be a great conversation and we'll be back with that right after the break.

Sarah Spreitzer: And welcome back. We're very lucky to be joined today by a good friend to ACE, David Winston. David is the president of The Winston Group, Washington DC, strategic planning and survey research firm. Beyond advising members of Congress, he has also advised Fortune 100 companies on strategic planning and brand reputation. And I also know he is a proud graduate of the University of Cincinnati, go Bearcats.

David Winston: Thanks.

Sarah Spreitzer: I just had to add that, David. ACE has worked closely with David on several surveys, but most recently in 2017, 2019, and 2021 we carried out some focus groups and some national surveys around international students with support from a grant from The Koch Foundation. And just for context, I think a lot of our listeners already know this, but there's over a million international students in the United States and their economic impact on the overall US economy fluctuates, but is around $40 billion and that's beyond institutions of higher education. So we saw this as an issue that wasn't just impacting institutions of higher education, but also the bigger US population.

David Winston: Yeah. And to that point, when you asked in terms of do you think they have a positive impact in terms of economic growth? 50% think that it's an increase, a positive, only 11% think that there's a negative associated with that. And so that shows you just a really significant margin there in terms of how people do that. But again, I'm going to emphasize that ultimately what COVID has done, has focused people on the idea of these aren't foreign students. These are the best and the brightest from around the world, right? And how do we get them there? How do we get them here? Colleges and universities, right? Because that's what's attracting them and that's pretty remarkable. And having said that also to your point, because again, prior to this, there was this sense of yes, they were playing this important role in terms of what they're doing in economies. They were actually paying full tuition, which were very helpful in terms of the institutions themselves. But it was still much more sort of, what was happening in terms of the local community or the university itself. It's this bigger piece that I think has potential to change things. And I will tell you that you've seen it stretch across other issues as well, in terms of that change. Just the broader sense of immigration.

Mushtaq Gunja: David, can I take us a step back? For those of our listeners who have not looked at the survey or looked at the writeup, I wonder if we can just spend a little bit of time thinking through in a little bit more detail, what your findings were from this 2021 survey. So first, who did you survey and what was the methodology? What was the timeframe that you were out?

David Winston: This last survey, we did from February 13th to February 17th. It was 1,000 registered voters. The reason we do registered voters is because again we're dealing with policymakers and that's their audience, right? Those individuals who will think about who they're going to vote for, or not vote for. From a policy point of view, we can pose the question that, okay, there has been this drop off in terms of the amount of international students applying, should there be special efforts made to up that number? And basically 49% said that they don't think that we should go out of our way to increase international students. Only 34% agreed with that. And again, this goes back to what do they represent? They represent the best and the brightest, just the idea of having a program to do that, wasn't the most compelling piece. However, having said that, you go into one of the elements that emerged in earlier surveys was this concern that well, we're taking seats away from American students, right? That's still there. 43% believe that in fact, we're taking seats away from American students, but also voters believe that most of the high school students who are graduating are ready to go to college, only 31% believe they're actually ready to go to college, 54% don't. And so, as a result, in terms of international students, 57% of the country believes they're prepared. So then when you get down to this and here's the sort of important illusion, do they believe that international students have earned that seat? 50% think they have, and only 30% don't, right? And that's actually an improvement from 29 when it was only 45%. So it's not like they're being unfairly given the seat. The preference is, people who would prefer if American students got those seats, but ultimately they believe they're earned, which I think is an interesting transition, at least from a couple of years ago.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah. David, one of the things that jumped out at me with the survey data was obviously the overall support for international students, which we knew was there, but it was definitely reinforced by the data. But not a lot of support for concerted efforts to grow the overall international student enrollment. And after we've done the check in over the past three years, we did have some longitudinal data. We had questions that we asked each time. And then we did ask some specific questions coming out of... or starting to come out of the COVID era. And we published a paper called International Student Inclusion and Success, Public Attitudes, Policy Imperatives, and Practical Studies. And that was done with our colleague Robin Helms at ACE, who's really interested in how institutions can support international students overall. And for folks that haven't read that report, we'll post a link to it in the podcast. But the major things that we called out was that the contributions of international students eclipse any perceived competition with domestic students, that US voters really do find them very important and that the economic value and the impact of international students resonate with US voters. But then there were a few things that I think caused folks to pause in this post COVID period. And I was wondering, David, if you could talk a bit about what you found out regarding the vetting for students and their visas and some of the issues that we're seeing around foreign governments specifically China.

David Winston: Well, that people believe that international students are not properly vetted before they come to the US to study. 37% believe that they're not. 35% don't believe that statement. So basically the country doesn't know. Right? And I have to say, I'm not sure that, that's a reflection of the international students, or if that's the reflection of the US government being able to do it. So I wouldn't necessarily take that as negative, but what it does say is, that it's something that needs to somehow be addressed. And so when colleges and universities are talking about this as they're part of policy makers, they need to work through it from that point of view. This is not a satisfactory state of affairs, how in fact do we make this work better and how do we make the vetting process work better.

The other element that's beginning to emerge and it's combination of two issues has been this whole sort of sense of intellectual property and foreign gifts in terms of governments setting up. And here we're going to have to make a tough distinction because it falls into basically two categories. And again, this is what the survey is saying, right? There's China, and then there's everybody else. And so when you pose specifically the question in terms of foreign gifts, when you ask... Let me just read this to you, that there was a belief that foreign governments are attempting to obtain research in US institutions when you just ask that without anything, 39% think that in fact foreign governments are doing that. And he specifically mentioned China that jumps to 49%, right? So there's a distinction in people's minds. I'm going to tell you that within that 39% was probably driven by China when we actually surfaced it, you can see that emerge better. So that's just a challenge that people are going to have to deal with. The sense of foreign gifts, again, it cuts along that same line. The challenge is the way it's been presented has not been very positive. So when you pose the question, 44% believe that receiving these funds caused colleges and universities to engage in behaviors that are harmful to the US. Okay. Not saying that, that's true or not in terms of what they're doing, but I think every university official needs to recognize that when that issue comes up, they need to address that concern and be prepared to address that concern. And again, that was largely shaped by some of the funding that was coming from China and the literal front-page coverage checkout.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah. And I think we actually just recently saw that play out in the Senate with the US innovation and competition act where they made some changes to foreign gift reporting for institutions, new requirements for foreign gifts and contracts to individual faculty and staff. I think, concerns about the foreign talent recruitment programs have been high on the list of concerns from Congress. And then also some attempts to look at the visa vetting to try and make tweaks to see if they could narrowly focus on what they perceive to be a national security threat.

David Winston: Right. Because again, the point that you're making is that this is now not just as a sense of okay that sort of broad international dynamic and how do we deal with it as it relates to point of yours. This is a specific country that has been identified by the mandate as a competitive threat on the international military but potentially more complex opponent than an ally in India or another country like that. And it doesn't necessarily reflect attitudes about colleges and university. You've seen a whole bunch of issues dealing with supply chain, drug, supply chain, and variety of different components. So it's not just unique to colleges and universities.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah. So the other thing Robin and I included in our report was also, as a result of this data, these three different times that we touched base with US voters overall policy recommendations, which are things that we have been messaging to the new administration, to the Biden administration about how they can support international students overall. And I think, we've seen some of that already happening. So we've seen the Biden administration grant some flexibility for our incoming international students, because obviously COVID isn't over. So we still have travel restrictions. We're still having issues, getting consulates reopen, and having interviews for those new applicants.

So it's been great to see the State Department grant some flexibilities, but we've also seen legislation introduced the US Citizenship Act in the House and the Senate which was proposed by the Biden White House that I think would address some of the things that we saw in the survey data, including how to fix the green card system, expand the number of green cards that we're offering, and prioritizing green cards to international students who may have an advanced degree from a US institution. So I think that, that would all be very helpful based on what we found out from the surveys.

David Winston: Over the next year or so, and this is going to be true at all sorts of different levels for a variety of reasons, we're dealing with foreign students here arriving, do they have to be vaccinated or not? What are going to be the requirements? What you're going to have is an inconclusive group of policymakers, not because they're trying to be inconclusive, but because it's just a very complicated situation. So I think it's important when folks are thinking about how do they interact with our policy makers, but again, in an issue like that, go in with as much information as you can, because that's what they're looking for. There's not necessarily a clear answer here. The other thing too, and again, I'm going to go back to this point in terms of the green cards and just where things are. Again, I'm going to suggest the idea here is you want more green cards, not saying you can admit more foreign students. You want more green cards because you want to be able to get all the best and brightest that we can here. Right? Because what will happen when you're talking to policy makers, you're giving them a whole different outcome. Right? All of a sudden, can we get another individual, like we got from Hungary, right? And is that possible? So to your point, where you're talking about a very clear policy that has to be addressed, if in fact you're going to be able to do the things that colleges and universities want to do in terms of foreign students. The outcome is a much more engaging outcome because again, what we were talking about before, when you just simply say, do we need to do things to attract more foreign students? That was at best with warm response. But that's not what's in play here. And I think there's a real policy opportunity here.

Mushtaq Gunja: David, you've been studying these issues, especially related to international students now for a few years, at least in conjunction with ACE. Having looked at this data from '21, what jumped out at you as a surprise, anything in there that was not what you expected?

David Winston: Well, if there was one thing that I thought was unusual, going back to an earlier point that I made with you, was the sense that seats have really been earned. Right? And so yeah, you were taking seats away potentially the American students could have, but it wasn't unfair. Right? And that was an improvement from prior surveys. So to me, that was, I don't want to say surprise, but I think it's an interesting evolution of where people were. Now having said that, part of the reason is because people in this country are not particularly satisfied with the K-12 system and they think there's an inherent weakness there. And when they see all the remedial coursework that has to happen to get students who graduate from high school to be up to speed in terms of college. So it's a reflection of two elements K-12 not operating well. But also again, going back to what Sarah was saying, when you're talking about gee, there's more green cards and all that, it's because these students have earned the ability to get that seat because of the part of their education where they are. So I view that as one of the more positive developments in terms of being able to make the whole program work.

Mushtaq Gunja: Sure. In that vein, David, you've spent a lot of time telling us about reframing the message about international students to really focus on the best and the brightest, rather than focus just on increasing the total number of students that are here. I wonder if aside from that best and brightest point, if you have other advice for our college presidents who are listening, what would you tell them that they should do with the survey data?

David Winston: Well, I'm going to go back to that, but in a slightly different way. And that's this, one of the... And this is other work that I've done for ACE this whole value proposition of college education. That in fact, what this represents is what are colleges and universities doing for this country? They are creating an environment for scientific and intellectual knowledge development at a scale that is not just simply in terms of doing things for this country in the sense of students here. It's literally attracting a worldwide audience to bring those individuals here. So the contribution is we're creating a knowledge environment that is remarkable. And let's go back to the vaccine. Right? Did anybody think that you could actually do a vaccine in less than a year? No. I mean, the expectation was, five, six years. That's what they normally take. Yet you had this one woman who came up with this one important foundational find, MRNA that basically was the structure that suddenly moved knowledge along at this dramatic pace. Okay. So what was the value of colleges and universities? Right? And so for college presidents, in particular, being able to go out and clearly define this is what our academic system was able to accomplish for this country, I think it's an important statement. And then what they can do is tie into specific things that are occurring at their university that in fact can contribute to that. And it opens up just a whole different frame of the conversation. So what does this lead to? It leads to being able to answer what the value proposition is and foreign students within that, what role does that play?

I would say the one thing that I think going back to the sense of earning seats and I think that trend is likely to improve. And I think what's important is as college presidents talk about this, that they drive that point home, this isn't just being given to somebody, these are people who have earned it. So that's one component, too. I think the sense of contribution that exists now, potential from foreign students that there's a greater acceptance of what that contribution potentially can be. And people are more open to that. That I think is also important because again, you've reframe that, but nonetheless, there still has to be some performance level. What that also means, I think that colleges need to do is, they need to track their foreign students, not so much in terms of what specifically they do, but what you want to do is have this little laundry list of accomplishments that matter and understand it's the outcomes that they're producing is what's going to change things. And colleges and universities need to make sure that they have that. Because then when you go to policymakers and say, the reason you want to increase this is, look at all the things that occurred as a result of these students being here and think about what we could be doing more so. And so I think that those pieces are in place to be done. But it's going to take an effort. I mean, it's going to take a policy direction and leadership direction quite frankly, from college presidents to make sure that all those three pieces in fact are addressed and effectively move things forward.

Sarah Spreitzer: Thanks. Thanks, David. I think that's a very helpful and hopefully slightly hopeful note to end on. So I would just say thank you so much for being on the podcast and talking through the results of the survey work and just a reminder that report will be posted on with the podcast, if folks want to dig into the data. And David, I'm sure we will be talking soon.

David Winston: Okay. I hope that was helpful. Thanks.

Mushtaq Gunja: Thanks David.

Sarah Spreitzer: Thanks Mushtaq.

Jon Fansmith: To listen to earlier episodes and subscribe to dotEDU, you can find us on Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Google Podcast, and wherever you get your podcast. For show notes and links to resources mentioned in the episode, you can go to our website at acenet.edu/podcast. And you can also use our email podcast@acenet.edu for suggestions for upcoming shows or guests you'd like to see, or just thoughts on how we're doing. Before we go, I'd like to thank Carly O'Connell, Laurie Arnston, Audrey Hamilton, and Malcolm Moore for the exceptional producers of dotEDU and make us sound as good as we do every episode. And finally, I'd like to thank you for listening.

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​Each episode of dotEDU presents a deep dive into a major public policy issue impacting college campuses and students across the country. Hosts from ACE are joined by guest experts to lead you through thought-provoking conversations on topics such as campus free speech, diversity in admissions, college costs and affordability, and more. Find all episodes of the podcast at the dotEDU page.

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