Third in a series on who our students are and how they perform.

International students are a reliable predictor of U.S. institutional success in a global market for higher education.

I am not confident that American postsecondary institutions will retain their dominance in the global marketplace for long. When the perceived quality of a good or service declines and its price increases, Adam Smith’s invisible hand is uncompromising. Unless U.S. postsecondary institutions improve the perceived quality of their research and teaching and contain their costs, their dominance in the global market will erode at an accelerating rate.

William Patrick Leonard, vice dean of SolBridge International School of Business in Daejeon, Republic of Korea.

In greater numbers than ever before international students attend U.S. universities. Evidently they expect excellence in US schools compared to those in other lands and their home countries.

They are right, but may not be for long.

If U.S. schools continue to treat the university experience as a property right rather than a foundation for intellectual growth, our quality will decrease and international interest will wane. In the next few years, decreasing international enrollment may represent the canary in the coal mine of higher education in the United States.