Trump & Brexit – Indian students to benefit or lose?

Brexit, Trump - UK, US Education

Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory have made a lot of students re-evaluate their plans of studying in the U.K. and the U.S.

This year has been quite eventful. From the U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s victory to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (Brexit), major changes are on the cards that may affect other countries and the education system, especially students who were planning to study in these countries. The U.S and the U.K are popular destinations for higher education and such a massive political change in both the countries has left a lot of students re-evaluating their preferences.

Trump’s victory

November 8 saw one of the most shocking political results in the world. It led many international students to withdraw their applications from the American universities they had applied to. Since the beginning of his campaign, Trump has been bold about his immigration policy with promises to bring back jobs to the working-class whites, which was one of the main reasons for his victory. The most critical question with no immediate answer is: Will international students be welcomed in the U.S. as they were before, and will they be given the same privilege while seeking jobs?

International students are concerned about the possible Trump Effect.

Some believe that the election results will change the entire academic and corporate demography in the U.S., affecting foreign students. Some American universities have sent letters to students emphasising their diversity and inclusiveness.

The University of South Florida (USF) states: “In contrast to a divisive Presidential election that temporarily hurt the fabric and values of the United States, here at USF we are committed to a climate of civility, unity and respect for all. There are already signs just a few weeks after the election of the whole country returning to a gracious and exciting vision for the future.” Apart from sending a letter to all international students, USF has put out a special one for “Prospective Indian Students and Scholars”. Ten per cent of USF’s 49,000 students are international. The number of Indian students at USF has been growing every year and is expected to touch the 1,000 mark by January 2017, once the Spring intake is over.

“It is too soon to say anything because now we have to consider how the economy is going to be affected. The dollar-rupee difference has been inflating considerably and if Trump opens up new scholarship and funding opportunities for international students, then that is an advantage for them,” said Vaishnavi Veeramuthu, an Indian student studying at Texas Tech University, Texas.

When it comes to the number of international students at American universities, India has the second highest enrolment percentage. Trump’s campaign towards foreign students and job opportunities has been mixed, which leads to an unpredictable future.

Brexit

The chaos in Europe caused by Brexit is no less than the one in the United States. The impact on the economy and the drop in the currency is already noticeable. However, its full impact can not be predicted until the actual exit from the Union takes place. One of the few benefits for people after Brexit is the drop in the currency. Brexit is also said to reduce the cost of studying for Indian and international students.

A lot of universities are worried about the possible reduction in the number of students, even from across Europe, who choose to go to the U.K. for further education. This has not stopped the best universities in the U.K. from providing admissions to international students. Hari Prasad, a student of Leeds Beckett University, said, “Brexit was the result of a very close vote from the native people here. For international students from India, the U.K. has always had a tighter visa duration after graduation and this is more evident after Brexit. Local people have been very critical of the result and do not approve of it.” He went on to say that big corporate companies prefer local talent versus international students. “However, the small labour and university jobs are more welcoming,” he added.

The number of Indian students going to the U.K. to study has declined over the last three years due to unfavourable policies regarding work opportunities. While in countries such as the United States, it is easier to get a job after graduation, in the U.K. it is much more difficult. Indian students as well as non-U.K. students will have the same job opportunities as EU students will not be given the same privilege as before. U.K. universities are offering several scholarships in order to ease out the financial burden on international students.

“For citizens of the U.K., restrictions in free movement will take a toll on education as they will no longer have the ease or leeway to study at any European university they like. For both international students as well as the U.K. citizens, the cost of living might be a problem. For international students, the expected fall in the pound value will be compensated through costs of accommodation, food and other miscellaneous costs which will snowball and leave them with huge loans to pay off,” said Jose Johnson, who is applying at universities in the U.K. for postgraduation in engineering.

Source: The Hindu, Education Plus, December 12, 2016