A major increase in international enrollment in recent years has intensified the competition for entry to America’s top private colleges and universities, as ever-growing numbers of applicants angle for the limited supply of seats. That tension is particularly evident in the eight prestigious Ivy League schools: Federal data shows that their freshman classes grew slightly from 2004 to 2014 — 5 percent — while the number of incoming foreign students rose 46 percent. At the same time, applications to the schools shot up 88 percent.

Public diplomacy — vital diplomatic outreach and person-to-person exchanges — is more important than ever as we confront the conflict and suspicions that afflict the world. In August, Professor Janet Steele took the helm of the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication (IPDGC). As the director, Steele oversees the Institute’s speaker and panel events, media training workshops for international delegations, and graduate workshops—all of which promote the greater understanding and practice of public diplomacy.

Brett Bruen highlighted initiatives he and colleagues undertook at the University of Tikrit in 2009 to counter extremism in Iraq. [...] The example was meant to demonstrate how undervalued centers of learning are in wars of ideas and to advocate for U.S. public diplomacy strategies that leverage inherent American advantages in academic English and entrepreneurship.

Universities are now a "crucial" part of the UK's "soft power" in projecting international influence, says former foreign secretary William Hague.  Their recruitment of overseas students "enriches and strengthens our universities and our future economy and our influence in the world", he said.

The Chinese government’s influence over American universities is broad and deep, ranging from such subtle pressures as the denial of visas for vocal American scholars to more overt efforts, including opening Chinese cultural institutes on U.S. college campuses, experts on human rights and education told lawmakers Thursday.

On the morning of September 8, Harvard University celebrated what school President Drew Gilpin Faust called an historic moment after it received a $350 million gift from a wealthy Hong Kong family. The gift, to the Harvard School of Public Health, is the largest ever in the university's 378 years of history. It may sound like a victory for Chinese soft power, but many Chinese netizens are angry that the money isn't being directed toward domestic concerns.