Anne Bohm has had mixed experiences with American students -- but hasn't given up on them. During nearly 40 years of running the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), she watched over a steady stream of young Americans which included John F. Kennedy, David Rockefeller, Daniel P. Moynihan, and Texas Sen. John G. Tower.
Another part of that stream included radically left-wing American students who organized protests at the school in 1968. Those widely publicized protests reddened the institution's already radical image and helped bring a shift in British government policy.
Before the protests, an overseas student could cash in on a giveway offer: a prestigious postgraduate education at the LSE for L50 a year (now about $120). Today the government has set a L2,000 ($4,800) minimum on tuition for foreign students. The government has also reduced its grants in proportion to each university's number of foreign students.
Whatever the government's intention, says Dr. Bohm, "the result is obviously to reduce the number of overseas students at British universities."
Dr. Bohm, herself German by birth, feels that the traditional mix of nationalities at the London School of Economics is a vital part of the special education it provides as part of the University of London. So she is determined to keep attracting students from the United States and from the more than 100 other countries which regularly send students there.
At present touring the world as the LSE's external relations consultant, Dr. Bohm is actively recruiting US students -- despite the trouble American students stirred up in 1968 and despite the fact that "our American intake was always a problem, particularly as far as reading and writing is concerned."
Also, to offset British budget-trimming, which cuts sharply into university funds, Dr. Bohm is looking for money from individuals, corporations, and foundations. Her immediate goals is to raise L2 million ($4.8 million) to provide scholarships for 1,000 students over the next 10 years. Without extra funds, she warns, LSE will lose the overseas students who have traditionally made up nearly half of the 1,700-member graduate school.
David Rockefeller, chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank and an LSE alumnus, has lent his voice to the cause. He explains:
"IT has become clear to me that the multinational composition of the student body at LSE was in itself a unique resource. It afforded one an opportunity to exchange ideas with individuals of widely different background and, as such, was an invaluable training ground for the larger arena of business and public affairs and the world of international finance."
Jamaica's recently replaced socialist prime minister, Michael Manley, also warmly endorses LSE. Some suspect that Mr. Manley's left-wing stance was a product of LSE bias. His answer is that when he studied there, "Moving from [ socialist professor] Harold Laski to [conservative professor] Friedrich A. von Hayek on the same day was both a stimulating experience and a guarantee that the attentive student would be forced to think."
In Chicago, nearing the end of her latest fund-raising tour, Dr. Bohm said she is more than ever convinced of the value of keeping LSE's lecture halls multinational. Its graduates, she points out with pride, are an amazingly varied group. There are pop stars like Mick Jagger and prominent thirdworld leftist leaders such as Jamaica's Mr. Manley. The list also includes former British Prime Minister Clement Attlee; Kenya's first prime minister, Jomo Kenyatta; Ghana's first prime minister, Kwame Nkrumah; and Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
From her early successes with several major corporations in Japan and Australia, it seems that Dr. Bohm's trip is paying dividends. With her brisk Germanic precision, she has proved effective in explaining to potential donors that radicalism prospered at LSE in the 1960s, not because of the school's teaching, but simply because "we were the nearest to London's television studios. . . . We knew something was about to happen when the TV crews s tarted arriving in the early morning before the students."