By Susan M. Thornton, MS
In April of 2023, the President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute held a summit titled “Higher Education Pathways to Immigration: Why it Matters.”
Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and Carola Suárez-Orozco Professor in Residence at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Director of the Immigration Initiative at Harvard, have written a report from the summit titled “The solution to declining college enrollment? Immigrants.”
Significantly, they write that “immigrant origin youth — those with at least one parent born outside of the United States — are the fastest growing group of students in higher education today. New data indicate that they make up 31 percent of all college students across the United States — a 58 percent increase from 2000 to 2018.
The majority (84 percent) of these students are citizens either by birth (68 percent) or through naturalization (16 percent).
“The only group growing enrollments in higher education are immigrant origin students — and they are projected to be the primary group driving growth of the US labor market into 2035. They play a particularly important role in the science, technology, engineering, and math sector of the economy: Approximately a quarter of all STEM workers in our country and well over a quarter of all physicians and surgeons practicing in the United States are of immigrant origin.”
They go on to ask if higher education recognizes these students and serves them well. The answer is that higher education and Congress need to do better. An “all-hands on deck” approach is needed, they state.
Key takeaways and virtual recordings from the summit are available at “Higher Ed Pathways to Immigration: Why it Matters.”
The nonpartisan, nonprofit Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration brings college and university presidents and chancellors together on the immigration issues that impact higher education. The Alliance is composed of over 500 presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, enrolling over five million students in 43 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.