Mroz: Restricting immigration hinders U.S. competitiveness

HOUGHTON — Already in tight competition with other countries in education, the recent trend to restrict immigration, which also affects international students, puts the U.S. at a disadvantage, said the departing president of Michigan Technological University.

In order to attract the best talent, universities must rank among the best, said Glenn Mroz, and Michigan Tech is no exception to the rule. Right now, Michigan Tech is a destination for talent from many different countries, Mroz said, and legislators have asked his opinion on students from other countries. He has responded with a common-sense approach.

“I said: ‘Well, a lot of them stay here, and even more of them would like to stay. But more importantly, if we don’t attract the best talented people to the United States, and have them work for U.S. companies, they’re going to be working for our competitors.'”

Other countries offer good educations, said Mroz, and as visa restrictions have gotten tighter in the U.S., more students are going to New Zealand or Australia, which are much closer to home for many international students.

The United Kingdom also has very good schools, he added, which attract international students.

“We don’t have a corner on the market for educating people,” Mroz pointed out. “A lot of different places offer good education, and a lot of international students, as visa restrictions have gotten tighter in the U.S., more people are going to New Zealand, or Australia, a lot closer to home — the U.K., so, it’s a big deal.”

Mroz, who is stepping down as president of Michigan Tech, gave a talk last week at a Houghton Rotary Club luncheon, during which he highlighted this issue and others, including a global shortage of skilled workers, which is also hindering local manufacturing and businesses in the western Upper Peninsula.

ManpowerGroup states that employers report the highest global talent shortage since 2007, which reached 40 percent for 2016-17. More and more employees are turning to training and development to address talent shortages.