Will Chinese Tariffs Affect Buckeyes From Beijing?

Ron Carter
The Oval at Ohio State University

Considering how the trade war between the U.S. and China has roiled for months, it’s no surprise the fallout has been wide and significant, affecting industries from footwear manufacturing to soybean farming.

You can include U.S. universities among those feeling the effects, as the Associated Press reported that some schools are seeing a drop in Chinese students and the important revenue they generate, due in part to trade conflicts, political tensions and increasing uncertainty about obtaining visas.

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For the current school year, Ohio State has 4,441 Chinese students, down 24 from last year but well above the school’s 1,411 enrollment a decade ago. This year, students from China represent about two-thirds of OSU’s 6,571 international students, who pay $34,989 in tuition annually, compared to $11,084 for Ohio residents.

University officials say the decline in Chinese students, as well as total international students, is because last year’s class was larger than expected, and the slight decrease keeps the school in line with its 10-year plan. OSU touts its pre-departure orientation, a program in Beijing and Shanghai that provides an introduction to college life in the U.S., for creating a strong connection with potential students in China. It attracted close to 1,000 students last June.

Still, Ohio State is monitoring the situation. “Like all universities that enroll students from China, we are aware that future enrollment patterns could be different,” says OSU spokesman Benjamin Johnson.

Experts say some Chinese students are reluctant to make a four-year commitment to a U.S. university given the uncertainty of the political and social climate. The University of Illinois even took out a $60 million insurance policy to guard against possible future declines.


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