The Late Twentieth Century (1979–1999)
Jimmy and Roselyn Carter were welcoming the incoming president to the White House just as the American hostages, held captive for 444 days, left Iranian airspace. At the Inaugural Luncheon, Ronald Reagan announced the good news to a joyful nation. The 1979 Iranian Revolution darkened Carter’s legacy, as it sent Middle Eastern enrollments into decline. The same year, Deng Xiaoping’s ascendency and the reopening of China’s borders unleashed a new wave of Chinese students, bound for the United States. By 1998, half a million foreign students were seated in America’s college classrooms, creating multicultural environments and contributing to the national economy. Countries such as Australia, France, and Great Britain were now working to attract more international students. Spurred by fresh academic opportunities worldwide, the period saw a rise in American study abroad. Census data for the period illustrates both trends. International student organizations and area studies programs are also reviewed.
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