New York Times
By Craig S. Smith
March 24, 2017
Toronto schools have stopped planning field trips to the United States, citing concerns that some students may be turned away at the border in the wake of President Trump’s latest travel ban and the American immigration authorities’ newly implemented “extreme vetting” procedures.
At the same time, many Canadian universities are seeing a sharp increase in international student applications while foreign applications to many colleges in the United States have declined.
The field trip decision by the Toronto District School Board, the largest board in the country, was the latest disruption in travel from Canada to the United States as the Trump administration tightens the borders. Canada’s Girl Guides and the Greater Essex County District School Board in Windsor, Ontario, earlier suspended trips across the border given the uncertainties surrounding the ban.
“We don’t want to put our students in the position of traveling down to the border with their friends and classmates on a trip and then being told they cannot enter the U.S. for no legitimate reason,” said Ryan Bird, a spokesman for the Toronto board.
He said that 25 trips involving about 900 students would go forward because they were already booked, but that no new trips would be planned for either students or staff members until further notice. The district normally sends dozens of school groups to the United States each year.
Mr. Bird said that should anyone on the trips already booked be turned away at the border, the trip would be canceled. If the board hears that this is happening repeatedly, or if the executive order is eventually implemented, all booked trips will be canceled for the remainder of the year.
Mr. Bird noted that the Toronto district, with about 246,000 students in 584 schools, was one of the most diverse in the world, with students from “every corner of the globe, including the six countries referenced in the order.”
Mr. Trump’s latest executive order would place a 90-day ban on citizens from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the country unless they have valid visas. The order has been suspended pending court challenges in several states.
The divergent political climate between the United States of Mr. Trump and the Canada of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is throwing other trends into high relief.
While many American universities are seeing a drop in applications from international students, international student applications continue to climb at Canadian universities, including in some cases a sharp rise from the United States.
Applications from the United States to Ryerson University in Toronto are up sharply, rising 82 percent for the 12 months through March from the same period last year. The university has seen a 25 percent increase in international applications over all, said Marisa Modeski, Ryerson’s assistant director of student recruitment.
“With respect to Trump, we see that as a potential influencer for application growth, but there are so many positive influencers that people need to pay attention to,” Ms. Modeski said. She cited the cost differential — Canadian universities are less expensive than many American universities, and the Canadian dollar is weaker than the American one.
The University of Toronto said it had seen a stunning 80 percent leap in applications from the United States in the 12-month period ending in March, compared with the same period a year earlier.
Ted Sargent, international vice president at the university, said the quality of the institution and job prospects for its graduates were the top two attractions. But he says students have told him that a third reason is the country’s “inclusive environment.”
“A lot of students are attracted by that ethos,” he said.
The University of Toronto’s trends are the opposite of those found among 250 American colleges surveyed last month by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.
Among the colleges that responded, 39 percent reported a drop in international applications for the fall, 35 percent reported an increase and 26 percent reported no change in applicant numbers.
The study did not give comparable figures for the previous year, but international student enrollment in the United States has been steadily growing in recent years, reaching a record one million students for the first time during the 2015-16 academic year.
Many respondents reported growing concern among prospective students and their families about the harsher climate in the United States for foreigners.
While the survey reported 26 percent of United States schools surveyed saw a decline in applications from India and 39 percent saw a decline in those from the Middle East, the University of Toronto has seen a 60 percent increase in applications from India and a 54 percent increase from the United Arab Emirates alone.
McGill University in Montreal said it had a 21 percent increase in undergraduate applicants from the United States, with a 25 percent increase in international undergraduate applicants from everywhere else. That compares with a 13 percent increase in international undergraduate applicants from March 2015 to March 2016.
“The number of international (specifically overseas) applicants has been growing somewhat over the last few years, although not to the same extent as in 2017,” Kathleen Massey, McGill’s executive director of enrollment, said in an email.
She said that Canadian universities, including McGill, had become increasingly active in recruiting overseas, but added that the changing political landscape in the United States, Britain and elsewhere may be playing a part.
A version of this article appears in print on March 25, 2017, on Page A7 of the New York edition with the headline: School Trips From Toronto to the U.S. Will Cease.
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