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New York to Require Vaccinations of University Students

FILE - A registered nurses fills a syringe with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up vaccination site at the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center in the Staten Island borough of New York, April 8, 2021.
FILE - A registered nurses fills a syringe with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up vaccination site at the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center in the Staten Island borough of New York, April 8, 2021.

Students at the State University of New York and the City University of New York must get vaccinated against the coronavirus to attend classes this fall, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

The requirement, affecting more than 435,000 full-time students, comes as Cuomo and other officials offer a slew of incentives aimed at encouraging people to get inoculated, as they see vaccine demand declining.

"So today, no excuses," Cuomo said at a briefing. "SUNY and CUNY boards will require vaccinations for all in-person students coming back to school in the fall."

Cuomo, who has ultimate authority over New York City's subways, also announced that riders will get free seven-day passes to the system for getting inoculated at station sites that will dispense Johnson & Johnson vaccine starting Wednesday.

The city's suburban commuter rail services, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North, will offer two systemwide one-way passes for riders who receive a shot at their station site, he added.

FILE - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gestures during a news conference on the coronavirus disease in New York City, New York, May 3, 2021.
FILE - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gestures during a news conference on the coronavirus disease in New York City, New York, May 3, 2021.

"So, think about this," the governor said. "You are walking into the subway station anyway. You are walking past the vaccination site. It's a one-shot vaccination. Stop, take a few minutes, get the vaccine."

Cuomo, who last week announced a ticket-for-shot arrangement with the Yankees and the Mets, New York City’s two Major League Baseball teams, said half of the tickets for upcoming New York Islanders National Hockey League playoff games would be reserved for vaccinated fans.

The requirements and incentives come as New York showed huge progress against the virus since a January surge, with its COVID-19 hospitalizations down 75% and its positivity rate down 82% at 1.4%.

While more than 60% of the state's adult population has received at least one dose of a vaccine, Cuomo, who also chairs the National Governors Association, said the pace was declining in New York and across the country.

Earlier on Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that a range of city attractions, including Lincoln Center, the Bronx Zoo and the Staten Island Ferry, will offer free admission in exchange for getting coronavirus shots.

"It's true that the supply has finally gotten to a point that it exceeds the demand," de Blasio said.

The strategy for reaching the unvaccinated will include more incentives and making the inoculations more accessible with mobile units and pop-up sites, de Blasio said.

As of Sunday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 45.8% of the country's population and 58% of those ages 18 and older had received at least one shot.

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Decline of American students in China could mean fewer experts

FILE - A view of a portion of the campus of Wuhan University in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, April 11, 2020. The number of American students studying in China has dropped dramatically in recent years.
FILE - A view of a portion of the campus of Wuhan University in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, April 11, 2020. The number of American students studying in China has dropped dramatically in recent years.

The number of Americans studying in China has dropped dramatically in recent years from around 11,000 in 2019 to 800 this year, and the slump is so bad that some China scholars worry the United States could lose a generation of "China experts" as a result.

David Moser, an American who has lived and worked in China for more than three decades and is the former academic director of China Educational Tours (CET) in Beijing, said that “I haven’t seen an American student in years.”

CET, which was launched in 1982, is a Washington-based organization that recruits American students for short-term language and culture studies in China. Moser said that his position as academic director recently went away and that the organization continues to struggle to get more students to return to China.

CET once carried out short-term study-abroad programs in several cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Harbin and Hangzhou. Now, the program is only available in Beijing and Shanghai. Harbin's page on the website shows that programs are "suspended until spring 2025."

"We have already lost a very crucial generation who would need to be continuing right now in China with studies or whatever,” Moser said, “so that 10 years from now, they would already be ... very experienced China hands [experts].”

During the 2011-12 school year, the number of American students in China was around 15,000. Since then, with Xi Jinping’s rise as China’s leader and growing frictions between the two countries, the number has declined, dropping dramatically after the pandemic to about 200 at its lowest point.

Loss of understanding

Moser said the lack of talented people who understand China is undoubtedly a huge loss for the United States.

"You really need people who understand the two academic systems, the two college systems, and the way these things work in order to not make a huge mistake,” he said.

Compared with China, however, CET's projects in Taiwan are in full swing.

Moser said CET started its first summer study abroad program at National Taiwan University in 2022, which attracted more than 120 American students. He said a program was set up in Taiwan because too few American students wanted to go to China.

He said he believed that starting around 2008, when Beijing held its first Olympics, China’s pollution and human rights violations turned some American students away, and that the trend has not reversed.

FILE - A Fudan University sign is seen on the campus in Shanghai, Dec. 18, 2019.
FILE - A Fudan University sign is seen on the campus in Shanghai, Dec. 18, 2019.

China's strict lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic was also a crucial turning point. At that time, many foreigners, including American students, left China. After the Chinese government suddenly lifted the lockdown at the end of 2022, most foreigners did not immediately return.

China's increasingly aggressive posture on the international stage under Xi, and its hostile propaganda against the West at home, is likely to have prevented foreign talents from visiting China for cultural and business exchanges.

A revised counterespionage law that took effect on July 1, 2023, has also made many Americans hesitant to travel to China, let alone study there.

As U.S.-China relations deteriorate, official academic exchanges have also been coldly received. Former U.S. President Donald Trump suspended all Fulbright exchange programs to China and Hong Kong in July 2020.

After the counterespionage law negatively affected China, the Chinese government sought to extend goodwill at the level of people-to-people exchanges. Xi announced during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in San Francisco in November 2023, "In order to expand exchanges between the people of China and the United States, especially the younger generation, China is willing to invite 50,000 American young people to come to China for exchanges and studies in the next five years."

High school students visit

In January 2024, more than 20 students from Muscatine High School in Iowa visited Beijing, Hebei and Shanghai. In March, 24 students from Lincoln High School and Steilacoom High School in Washington state also boarded a plane from San Francisco to Beijing.

Wenzhou University and Kean University in New Jersey signed an agreement to jointly establish Wenzhou-Kean University in May 2006. At the time, Xi was the party secretary of Zhejiang, home province of Wenzhou, and he attended the signing ceremony in 2006.

In a letter to Kean's president on June 7, Xi encouraged universities in the two countries to strengthen exchanges and cooperation. However, three days later, four American teachers who were giving short-term courses at Beihua University in Jilin, China, were stabbed by a Chinese man. Chinese officials quickly deleted the relevant content on social media, and a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson called the incident an "accident" that would not affect relations between the two countries.

Meghan Burke, a former sociology professor at Illinois Wesleyan University, said that although the attack on American teachers was a shocking and unexpected incident, she still hoped that it would not affect Americans' confidence in studying and traveling in China.

"I think it's always been there, but I think with the pandemic, there was some really racially loaded misinformation and fears that I wouldn't be surprised if that came into play in some students' and some families' decisions about where they were willing to go abroad," she said.

Asked about the 800 American students in China today, Burke said that was a big regret for the United States.

"Language is key to understanding culture. So, any limitations on learning Mandarin or other Chinese languages only hold back our ability to have a broader and more complex intercultural understanding and international perspective that I think benefits everyone who is involved in those conversations," Burke said.

In contrast, 300,000 Chinese students are studying in the United States.

"Asymmetry is bad for China, but it's much worse for the United States because asymmetry is in one direction, which is towards us,” Moser said. “The Chinese have very good knowledge of the U.S., of its culture, of its government, everything."

Adrianna Zhang contributed to this report.

Campus protests cause some students to rethink US colleges

FILE - Students continue to maintain a protest encampment in support of Palestinians on the Columbia University campus April 24, 2024, during the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in New York City.
FILE - Students continue to maintain a protest encampment in support of Palestinians on the Columbia University campus April 24, 2024, during the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in New York City.

Campus protests at U.S. colleges, and the accompanying unrest and violence, are causing some international students to rethink their plans to study in the United States.

Writing in the Straits Times, Vihanya Rakshika reports that safety concerns are motivating parents to look elsewhere for their children’s higher education. (June 2024)

Which schools have biggest alumni networks?

FILE - In this March 14, 2019, photo, students walk on the Stanford University campus in Santa Clara, Calif.
FILE - In this March 14, 2019, photo, students walk on the Stanford University campus in Santa Clara, Calif.

In addition to considering the cost and reputation of a school, prospective students should consider alumni networks – connected graduates who can help with the job search once classes are complete.

Writing in University Magazine, Anwar Abdi takes a look at the 25 U.S. universities with the largest alumni networks. (June 2024)

Report: Number of college dropouts remains high

FILE - The name for the University of Southern California is displayed at a campus entrance in Los Angeles, April 16, 2024.
FILE - The name for the University of Southern California is displayed at a campus entrance in Los Angeles, April 16, 2024.

Enrollment in U.S. colleges and universities is increasing, but the number of dropouts remains high, according to a report in the Chronicle of High Education.

Amanda Friedman writes that more former students are returning to school, but many want shorter-term programs, such as certificate programs. (June 2024)

Xi wants more exchanges between US, Chinese universities

FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping talks to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not seen) at the Great Hall of the People, on April 26, 2024, in Beijing, China.
FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping talks to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not seen) at the Great Hall of the People, on April 26, 2024, in Beijing, China.

Mutual understanding between China and the United States can be improved by having more university exchanges between the two countries.

According to Bloomberg, Chinese President Xi Jinpin told Xinhua News Agency that exchanges could develop young ambassadors who understand both countries. (June 2024)

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