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K-State Today Student Edition

February 27, 2012

Response to opinion piece on international students

Submitted by Marcelo Sabates

Dear Campus Community,

A recent opinion piece in the Collegian -- "Public Universities Should Not Accept Students from Countries That Have Bad Relation with the US" -- is deeply misinformed. The writer makes the claim that K-State should not be spending "nearly $7 million in government funding (...) to educate international students from nations that are not friendly with the U.S." In fact, international students pay tuition and fees more than twice as much as what the writer estimates it costs to educate a student.

Please be aware there is basically no financial aid available to international undergraduates. The financial benefit for the institution is obvious, even if one ignores the extraordinary economic impact of foreign students to the economy of our state. In this case, the writer’s "facts" are based on incorrect assumptions.

The claim that K-State should not engage in relationships with certain nations that have social, political, economic or religious differences with the U.S is obviously absurd. All major U.S. public institutions, including land-grant institutions, have a wide variety of strong connections with the countries listed in the editorial. Our international collaborations range from research collaborations, to student and faculty exchanges, to joint teaching endeavors. In the context of Vision 2025, many of our aspirational peers, have chapters of Confucius Institutes, major agricultural, engineering and business collaborations with China, and vibrant international student bodies that include Chinese as well as Turkish, Iranian, Iraqi and Afghan undergraduates and graduates.

Many valued members of the K-State family are from the countries listed by the author as unfriendly to the United States. We have exciting collaborations with universities and other institutions from some of the countries mentioned. International students offer an extraordinary opportunity for our own American students to become globally prepared. Employers require that type of preparedness from college graduates and K-State would be neglecting its mission if it denied its students that opportunity.

The writer says that K-State should not accept students from certain countries, regardless of their contribution. It would be illegal for K-State, as a recipient of federal financial assistance, to discriminate in college admissions because of national origin -- as well as ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability or religion for that matter. In our opinion, it would be immoral as well, which is not the way things are done at our university.

K-State’s welcoming attitude to all international students and its commitment to international education is, as it should be, at an all-time high.

Marcelo Sabatés, Ph.D.

Interim Associate Provost for International Programs