China's Ministry of Education is warning its students about studying in the United States in its first "study abroad alert" of the year. Students are advised to "prepare accordingly" given the potential difficulties in acquiring visas since "the visa review period has been extended, the validity period has been shortened and the refusal rate has increased."
Last year, the U.S. shortened the duration of visas for Chinese graduate students in certain STEM fields from five years to one year, according to Inside Higher Education. In other academic fields, the U.S. reportedly cancelled visas for Chinese professors associated with the state-fun Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and many colleges have closed their Chinese-sponsored Confucius Institutes, citing that they "serve as platforms for Chinese propaganda." Furthermore, the White House has strongly criticized Chinese-U.S. research collaborations amid concerns of potential espionage and intellectual theft by Chinese students and intellectuals.
According to the ministry, the tight regulations have allegedly affected Chinese students' ability to normally or successfully complete their students in the U.S. Statistics indicate that the number of Chinese students studying in the U.S. has not yet declined; there has been a 2 percent gain in undergraduate students and a 4 percent increase in graduate students from fall 2017 to fall 2018. However, some universities are still concerned that there will be an imminent decline in enrollment given current tensions between the two countries. U.S. universities benefit from the tuition revenue, as well as the perspective and academic excellence they bring to campuses.
According to a State Department official, "the United States rejects the unfounded allegation of a widespread and baseless campaign to deny Chinese visas" and that "we welcome Chinese students and scholars to the United States to conduct legitimate academic activities."
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