Drop in Middle Easterners at U.S. schools tied to visas - Washington Times, USA
- Drop in Middle Easterners at U.S. schools tied to
By Ellen Sorokin
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The number of students from the Middle East who
are attending colleges in the United States on
scholarships has dropped 12 percent this year, mostly
because of the delays caused by the new federal visa
regulations adopted since the September 11 attacks,
according to a new survey.
About 8,800 students from countries such as Saudi
Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Qatar are enrolled this year
at American institutions. Of that number, 600
students, or 6.8 percent, have not been able to return
to or start school on time because of visa delays, the
survey conducted by the Arab American Institute shows.
Last year, there were approximately 10,000
students from the Middle East attending American
schools, the survey shows.
The latest figures are of concern to institute
officials, who argue that the federal government
should make the new visa process more efficient for
foreign students, particularly those who want to come
to the United States from the Middle East. In some
cases, students are waiting up to three months to
obtain a visa, the survey shows.
They argue that leaving the process alone could
be harmful to the American economy.
"If the United States continues its current
policy, we are at risk of losing international
students to other countries," said Jean AbiNader, the
institute's managing director.
"We must recognize that these students are the
leaders of tomorrow. Foreign students are the conduits
by which we communicate ourselves to the rest of the
world. They should be encouraged to study in the
"The September 11 attacks demonstrated only too
well the consequences of cultures failing to
Mr. AbiNader said the institute agrees that
stiffer guidelines should be adopted, but suggests the
government could speed the process: It could notify
students within a month whether they will get their
visas so they can continue their studies.
"The system is so poor that what we're doing is
turning many of these people off rather than
encouraging them to come here," he said.
The institute surveyed the Arab embassies in
Washington, Arab companies that provide U.S.
scholarships and training for students, and
organizations that coordinate international students.
The countries that participated in the survey
were Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar,
Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates
and Yemen. The institute did not receive responses
from Algeria, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco and
The survey also showed that embassies and
companies sponsored about 1,400 students this year,
compared with 3,200 last year a 56 percent drop
Do You Yahoo!?
Everything you'll ever need on one web page
from News and Sport to Email and Music Charts