This section highlights key resources related to prevailing attitudes about international students based on public opinion polls. Most of the surveys below show that a majority of Americans express positive support for the presence and retention of international students.
Findings from NP Strategy’s monthly omnibus survey of 800+ respondents in August 2020 in partnership with the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration show that while Americans overall express support for and have positive attitudes about international students, these perceptions vary by demographic with older, rural and Republican voters expressing less support for international students and immigrants.
A second survey of 1,500 individuals in the U.S. conducted by One To World using the Google Surveys Publisher Network shows that while just over half believe that the U.S. benefits from the presence of international students, a large proportion have a limited understanding of international students and their value.
A more recent poll and accompanying report by the American Council on Education points to “a complex, evolving, and nuanced public view of international students and their intellectual and economic contributions, recognition of a long-term positive impact on U.S. innovation, and a need to revisit current policy narratives and institutional practice.” The report finds that while an overall positive view of international students is more prevalent than a negative view, there are concerns about perceived risks to national security.
Echoing this finding, a recent March 2021 poll and report by the Pew Research Center shows increasingly unfavorable attitudes toward Chinese international students with 55 percent of those surveyed being in favor of stricter restrictions on the ability of Chinese students to study in the U.S.
- American Council on Education (ACE) poll and report, International Student Inclusion and Success: Public Attitudes, Policy Imperatives, and Practical Strategies, February 2021.