Policy Papers

In addition to my scholarly work, I also contribute to ongoing policy debates in higher education and international education. I have regional expertise in the United States and East Asia and can write on topics that span both contexts.

Please contact me if you are interested in having me author a report or white paper for your organization. You can see examples of my work in this area below.


Kim, S. K. (2021, April). Coming to America: Reopening the United States to international students. Data Catalyst Institute.

It cannot be overstated how comprehensively international students contribute to the higher education sector and the American economy more broadly. More than one million international students were enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities in the 2019-20 academic year. They contributed $38.7 billion and supported more than 400,000 jobs to the United States. The influx of international students has also contributed to America’s status as the largest service exporter in the world, with higher education considered the country’s sixth largest service export—larger than America’s exports in telecommunications, plastics, and meat and poultry.

By the end of April, college-bound students will make critical decisions for their educational futures. However, current government restrictions severely cloud the prospects of thousands of U.S.-bound international students, who will have to decline, defer, or attend university in an alternative country instead. This paper reviews the many current restrictions on international students and the resulting educational, economic, and societal effects, and outlines numerous federal government actions that can be taken to reverse the situation.

Above all else, this paper recommends that the White House should immediately issue an executive order instructing relevant agencies (State, Homeland Security, Education, and Commerce) to develop procedures to ensure that every bona fide and qualified international student who wishes to study in the United States in the fall of 2021 can do so.

Kim, S. K. (2020, October). Reverse student mobility from South Korea to the United StatesOn Korea: Academic Paper Series. Korea Economic Institute of America.

Commentators have pointed to the “Trump Effect” for falling international student enrollment in the U.S. higher education sector. When taking a closer look at student mobility trends from South Korea, however, the facts and figures tell a different story. For the past two decades, South Korea has been consistently the third largest sender of international students to the United States. But the number of South Korean students who study in U.S. higher education had been steadily falling well before the more recent general declines in international student enrollment. What are the underlying causes of this concerning trend? And what are the implications for the United States when such a major contributor of international students wanes? This paper shows how internationalization efforts in the South Korean higher education sector have resulted in the reversal of domestic student outflow from South Korea to the United States that has major implications for bilateral relations between the two countries.