| by Jeff Dayton-Johnson

Jeff Dayton-Johnson

In a typical year, roughly a third of the Middlebury Institute’s student body is made up of international students. This has been true for decades now; the school itself was founded by an immigrant to this country and has always been a beacon for graduate students from around the world seeking the advanced professional skills they need in order to have an impact in their chosen fields.

Of all the adjectives one might choose to describe this past year, however, “typical” might be the most ill-fitting. It has been an unpredictable and unsettling year for international students in the U.S. that has increased the level of uncertainty they face with regard to studying here. Indeed, a recent survey of more than 200,000 prospective students from all over the world found that, while 61 percent said the political climate in the U.S. would have no effect on them, 33 percent said that their interest in studying here had decreased as a result of the current political climate.

This news is naturally of concern to us. And yet, beyond a number of individual, anecdotal conversations that our recruiting staff have had with prospective students, I see little evidence that the political climate in the U.S. is affecting enrollment at the Middlebury Institute. The proportion of international students in our incoming fall class is 36.4 percent—above our historical average—and we continue to receive a steady flow of inquiries from prospective students around the world.

While drawing any firm conclusions based on the scant evidence at hand would amount to pure speculation, I will say that I’m heartened by what I’m seeing and hearing. It seems to me that MIIS has always attracted a particularly resilient type of student, a naturally adventurous person who doesn’t let anything stand in the way of his or her dreams and goals. What this school offers—the chance to learn from world-class international professionals who are both educators and practitioners, and to do it within a seaside community that manages to be both cozy and cosmopolitan—remains a uniquely attractive proposition for many.

While we’ll continue to monitor any developments that may affect current or prospective students, I believe the Middlebury Institute is well positioned today, with a vibrant curriculum, superb faculty, and a great tradition of welcoming the international students who are so critical to the experience we offer: the chance to be part of a genuinely international community studying issues of mutual concern, while gaining the skills that will allow us to help shape a better future together.