Northwestern says no visa delays after Chinese ministry warns of studying at American universities

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Northwestern says no visa delays after Chinese ministry warns of studying at American universities

A Northwestern undergraduate student takes a picture of the Great Wall of China. The Chinese Ministry of Education this month warned its students about studying at American universities.

A Northwestern undergraduate student takes a picture of the Great Wall of China. The Chinese Ministry of Education this month warned its students about studying at American universities.

Source: Northwestern Global Learning Office

A Northwestern undergraduate student takes a picture of the Great Wall of China. The Chinese Ministry of Education this month warned its students about studying at American universities.

Source: Northwestern Global Learning Office

Source: Northwestern Global Learning Office

A Northwestern undergraduate student takes a picture of the Great Wall of China. The Chinese Ministry of Education this month warned its students about studying at American universities.

Alan Perez, Reporter

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Northwestern and other American universities were caught in an escalating global trade war this month, with the Chinese government warning its students and scholars of the risks of studying in the United States.

The Chinese Ministry of Education issued an alert warning that the visa applications of some Chinese scholars hoping to study in the U.S. had been restricted. The agency said some Chinese visa applications have recently been subject to an extended review process, shortened visa periods and increased rejections, according to state media.

In a statement, Provost Jonathan Holloway said he has “seen no visas denied for Chinese students and scholars who are coming to Northwestern” and will continue to help those hoping to acquire visas.

In an email to The Daily, Holloway said Northwestern has also not heard of any increased level of scrutiny. While the University is not involved in the visa application process, its Office of International Student and Scholar Services issues immigration documents and provides information on the process, he said.

The alert from Beijing came amid a souring trade war with Washington. The Trump administration has been unsuccessful in negotiating a trade deal with China to resolve long-held disputes over its trade relationship. Days after the warning, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose new tariffs after talks collapsed.

The move suggests China may start to guide its people away from American higher education, one of the most important economic relationships between the two countries.

Students from China made up more than half of new graduate students at Northwestern this year, and reached a peak of 1,933 graduate and undergraduate students, according to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services. Nationally, college education is among the country’s largest economic exports, though the number of Chinese international students studying in the U.S. has been slowing down in recent years.

But visiting Chinese students have faced harsh scrutiny from the White House in part because the Trump administration fears they might steal research secrets from American universities. Graduate students studying certain STEM fields were restricted to one-year visas last year and are facing greater scrutiny from Congress and the White House.

International students are already facing higher visa restrictions and regulations, which some believe has helped cause a drop in new international student enrollment. While highly elite institutions like Northwestern are typically safer than less prestigious schools, some higher education groups fear a nationwide decline.

“We cannot fulfill our mission to produce the highest caliber of research and solve problems of global significance without attracting the best talent in the world,” Holloway said in the statement. “To meet those goals, we envision an increase in the number of Chinese and international students and scholars at Northwestern in the years to come.”

The U.S. government has also signaled concerns about U.S.-Chinese research collaborations. Northwestern has partnerships with several Chinese universities, including a research collaboration between Southwest Jiaotong University and the McCormick School of Engineering.

Holloway did not give specific details about that research relationship, but said, “All partnerships conform to government regulations.”

Email: aperez@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @_perezalan_

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