Foreign Students' Safety Concerns in U.S. Spotlighted

Foreign Students' Safety Concerns in U.S. Spotlighted

April 23, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN on April 15 that international students are fearful of coming to the United States due to gun violence. He said fewer students, especially from Japan, are coming to the U.S. because they believe it is not safe. There have been decreasing numbers of students from Japan coming to study in the U.S., but there are other demographic and economic explanations for the decline, including Japan's low birth rate, the expense of foreign study, the recruiting cycle of Japanese companies, and a desire among Japanese youth to stay at home. Overall, the number of international students is increasing. Kerry was faulted by The Washington Post for relying on anecdotal information.

The incident was magnified by the Boston Marathon bombings, which left one graduate student from China dead and at least three other students, from Saudi Arabia and China, injured. The number of Chinese and Saudi students in the U.S. has grown dramatically in recent years despite concerns about safety. An October 2012 report from the British Council shows that students rated the U.S. in the top five in terms of both the safest and the least-safe countries in which to study abroad. This divided opinion "is no doubt a product of [the country's] size, diverse urban and rural nature, and the national celebrity status generated by its media, television, and sports industries and afforded to it by countries around the world," the report states. Chris Nyland, a professor of management at Australia's Monash University, who studies international student safety and security, said the impact of the Boston Marathon bombings on international students' decisions will probably be negligible, particularly given the appeal of Boston's colleges.

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