Monday Reading List: Fewer Foreign Students at US Colleges, Behavioral Economics, and Buying Black

Stephanie Saul of The New York Times reports that fewer foreign students are attending US colleges:

The number of newly arriving international students declined an average 7 percent in fall 2017, with 45 percent of campuses reporting drops in new international enrollment, according to a survey of nearly 500 campuses across the country by the Institute of International Education ... “It’s a mix of factors,” said Rajika Bhandari, head of research for the institute, which collects data on international students in cooperation with the State Department. “Concerns around the travel ban had a lot to do with concerns around personal safety based on a few incidents involving international students, and a generalized concern about whether they’re safe.” Another reason for the decline is increasing competition from countries like Canada, Britain and Australia, said Allan E. Goodman, president of the institute.

The daily instances of ignorance and prejudice from the Trump administration boil my blood, but this data should scare anyone who cares about long-term American competitiveness. That American universities consistently attract some of the best prepared foreign students is a dramatic advantage for our economy. The nativism and xenophobia of this administration are compromising that economic competitiveness.

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Moving to the K-12 sector, Isabel Fattal of The Atlantic looks at using behavioral economics to drive earlier school start times:

Research has shown that early school start times (7:30 a.m., for example) don’t square with adolescents’ sleep needs, and that later ones have positive effects on mental and physical health, as well as academic performance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have even urged policymakers to move toward later start times—scientists tend to recommend pushing the bell to 8:30 a.m.—for middle and high-school students. Still, many school districts have been mired in years-long debates over the issue.

Fattal examines the factors that led to the current start times, while unpacking the political and technical reasons that schools have been so reluctant to change their practices. The use of behavioral economics to drive changes is a promising idea, although I'm not sure there's a "killer app" idea in the research cited here. It's more likely that a bunch of school districts will try a handful of different things. Someone should keep track of whether anything sticks.

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Finally today, the Blavity team looks at a new app that makes "Buying Black" easier:

Official Black Wall Street has launched its highly-anticipated app which combines social impact and tech by alerting users when they're near a black-owned business. The app will allow for people to easily buy black and circulate the black dollar. With the new app, [Mandy] Bowman said she hopes to give quality black businesses more exposure and encourage black consumers to spend their money within the black community.

As a White dude who lives in a community where gentrification is a serious concern, I try to be mindful about where I spend my money. This app will be helpful as I make financial decisions.

Have a great week!