Australia Takes the Lead over the U.S.

10/15/2005 10:50 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an important story: Australia has become the destination of choice for fee-paying college students. That's surprising news given that the United States has traditionally held this spot by a wide margin, and did so up until the last such survey, five years ago.

Why does this matter?

Several reasons.

First, it's obviously a blow to American universities, which make a lot of money off foreign students.

Second, the United States benefits immensely from the presence of foreign students. Many of them stay here and add their talents and diversity to the workforce and culture of the country. The ones who return home carry with them a greater understanding of the United States that promotes more harmonious international relations.

And third, this shift reflects how the rest of the world views the United States. It's clearly no coincidence that this student exodus has occurred during the unilateralist presidency of George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. The rest of the world doesn't like us very much now, and that's just another example of how a war that was supposed to make us safer has actually weakened our international position.