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Schools, colleges and universities across America have taken varied approaches in their response to COVID-19. While sizable numbers of academic institutions have reopened, many of their Asian and Asian-American students have not returned to their classrooms. Let’s take a look at 4 reasons so many Asian students aren’t returning to school post COVID-19:

International Student Enrollment Has Stalled

Before COVID-19 interrupted academic life, international student enrollments were already trending down in the United States due to multiple factors. These include rising tuition costs, rising costs of living, barriers to their successful immigration, and political rhetoric that made many international students feel hesitant and uncomfortable about whether they would be welcomed.

This decline in international enrollments was already well underway before COVID-19 became an issue. However, it accelerated dramatically after the onset of the Coronavirus crisis.

On the bright side, university applications from international students have been showing signs of recovery. There has been a year-over-year increase in numbers of application forms being received.

Here at Central Washington University, we are looking forward to welcoming new international students to our five campuses. We’ve already enrolled almost 500 international students who come from 54 different countries, and our student body is greatly benefiting from our school’s culture of diversity and inclusion.  

Some Asian-American Parents Lack Trust in Promised Safety Measures

 It would be hard to fault Asian-American parents for thinking it’s safer to just stay home right now, and to keep their kids at home with them. This is a sentiment currently shared by many people across the globe.

The idea may, however, be more pronounced amongst this particular community, which comprises 18 percent of the doctors, 10 percent of the nurse practitioners and a sizable percentage of other healthcare workers in the United States. Considering their considerable firsthand experience with the virus and its effects, they are reluctant to take any action that could potentially increase the risks their children will come into contact with the virus.

Effects of the Trade Wars Linger On

 Some people believe that there are deteriorating relations between the United States and people of Chinese descent, and that former President Trump is at least partially responsible for this situation. They have come to this conclusion in large part because of the tariff increases that Trump imposed on Chinese imports at the time he was in office. Trump has also been accused of using xenophobic, racist language that would be likely to alienate Chinese people and Chinese Americans.

At this point, it’s uncertain whether or not there will be a resolution to the issues resulting from the trade wars. Some stakeholders are optimistic that relations with China will improve under the Biden administration. However, thus far, President Biden has indicated that the U.S.-Chinese trade war is likely to continue. At this point, experts are not expecting to see immediate tariff cuts or massive changes in the United States’ trade policy with China.

Asian-American Communities Have Experienced Racism and Violence

 Anti-Asian violence has increased in the wake of COVID-19. Asian-Americans have recently been harassed, shoved, punched, robbed and beaten. In particular, this is a worry for international students from Asia, who sometimes carry sizable amounts of cash with them when making large money transfers or opening a new US bank account for the first time.

In light of this highly tragic situation, some Asian and Asian-American parents have been reluctant to allow their children to return to school, fearing that their kids may be the next undeserving targets of harassment, racism and violence.

These are 4 of the most compelling reasons that many Asian and Asian-American students haven’t returned to school post COVID-19. American classrooms are simply not the same with so many of these motivated and inspiring students being missing in action. Collectively, we need to do a better job at working through the issues mentioned above to ensure that all our students, including our Asian and Asian-American students, feel safe, accepted and welcomed at our academic institutions. 

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