Even as Indian students were grappling with the impact that Brexit will have on their plans to study abroad, they were dealt another blow — by way of Donald Trump’s victory in US presidential elections. Widely labelled as an anti-immigrant, Trump throughout his campaign had promised to cut down jobs for “outsiders” in favour of Americans.
According to a survey by FPP EDU Media and Instead, 60 per cent international students said they’d be less inclined to come to the US if Trump were to win.
Post-Brexit, a study from a student recruitment consultancy, Hobsons found that almost a third of international students are less likely to come to the UK to study. Both the US and UK command a decent number of top-ranking universities that have always attracted students across the world. But will that really affect Indians who traditionally choose English speaking countries – US and UK for its similar curriculum as their country, better job opportunities and a liberal culture?
Career counsellor Mrinalini Batra feels it will impact the numbers as well as the destinations they choose within the US to study. “There are already parents worried about the backlash against minorities and also about job prospects when they graduate. Also, a number of students are keeping clear of states where the white population is in majority or the states we can clearly identify as Trump-supporting states,” she said.
There is curiosity and apprehensions among the global students community who is keeping a close tab on Trump’s moves. The UK’s strict student visa policy has already halved the enrollments since 2011. The drop was because the nation is not permitting international students to work following completion of studies. Even British Prime Minister Theresa May’s recent visit to India was not fruitful for the students.
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The 2016 Open Doors data shows that a record 165,918 Indians were studying in the US during 2015-16, making India the second leading country of origin among international students in the US. The Indian students contribute more than $5.5 billion to the American economy.
“Don’t forget Trump is a businessman and he cannot knock down the big money coming from us,” said Natasha Chopra, managing director of education consultancy The Chopras.
Rohan Ganeriwala, co-founder of Collegify, said how the US universities are assuring security of the students. “Most aspirants prefer most aspirants prefer universities located in the urban areas. America is a liberal country and racial attacks happen everywhere in the world. Keeping the fear of the students in mind, a lot of universities are reaching out to them assuring overall safety,” said Ganeriwala.
Even in the UK, the international students are worth £14 billion every year. That’s equivalent to more than one major trade mission a month. “Education is a long-term plan and therefore parents are willing to spend big bucks on quality education and brand name, no matter their wards gets job there are not,” added Ganeriwala.
Who will take the cake?
At present, the world is watching Trump. So, if he comes up with some harsh policies on limiting immigration or curbing jobs, experts believe its neighbour Canada will gain massively followed by Australia and New Zealand — the three English-speaking nations.
As per the estimates, students from India comprise about 14 per cent of the total international students in Canada and the numbers are increasing.
“Canada is emerging as a study (and later work) destination for an increasing number of students post the election. More likely Australia as English is the medium of instruction. Germany has been popular for engineering and technology but students are a little apprehensive of settling in the country due to language issues. While some colleges teach in English, it is the worry about the quality of life outside the class which is more prevalent,” said Batra.
But career counsellors feel the rising of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other European destinations is partially due to their relaxed and student-friendly norm. ” For past few months, these countries are coming up with policies to lure the Indian students. For undergraduate courses, people prefer English speaking nations while for PG courses, Ireland, France and Germany. Hong Kong is also picking up,” said Chopra.