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Travel ban ruling will “undoubtedly” impact US international enrolment

Key figures in the education community have condemned the US Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the implementation of the Trump administration’s travel ban, saying it will tarnish the country’s reputation and “undoubtedly” continue the downturn in US international student enrolment.

The US Supreme Court allowed the ban to pass in a 5-4 conservative majority ruling. Photo: Wikicommons

The decision has been hailed a " tremendous victory" by the US president

This is the third iteration of the ban which prohibits most immigrants, refugees and visa holders from Muslim majority countries Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as North Korea and Venezuela from entering the US.

“It makes it more difficult to maintain the US as the destination of choice for the world’s best students”

While lower courts had deemed the ban unconstitutional, the top US court allowed it to pass in a 5-4 conservative majority ruling meaning it can go into full effect, pending any legal challenges. The decision has been hailed a ” tremendous victory” by the country’s president.

NAFSA‘s deputy executive director Jill Welch expressed profound disappointment at the decision, describing it as “a giant step backward” and a “thinly-veiled attempt to target Muslim-majority nations”.

“Students from around the globe come here to study, research and grow in our world-class institutions because they believe that America offers freedom and the highest-quality education—and our nation has thrived because of our strength in diversity, not in spite of it,” Welch said in a statement.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the travel ban tarnishes our reputation and casts doubt in the minds of all students and scholars around the world that the United States is a welcoming nation that fosters religion freedom.”

While universities and colleges work tirelessly to welcome international students, Welch continued, the chilling effect of the policy and the uncertainty of it will “undoubtedly continue the current downturn in US international student enrolment”.

“[Students and scholars] are wondering: ‘is the United States still the country where we will be welcomed, where we can study or build a business?’,” she added.

American Council on Education president Ted Mitchell said that the travel ban contributes to the perception that the US is no longer a welcoming place and puts at risk the network of learning that makes US higher education “the envy of the world”.

“Many of our international students have gone on to invent groundbreaking technologies, start thriving businesses, and assume leadership roles in governments and other organisations, both in the United States and abroad,” he said.

“This decision makes it far more difficult to maintain the United States as the destination of choice for the world’s best students, faculty, and scholars, regardless of their nationality.”

Various other education organisations, scholars and members of the intled community have taken to Twitter to voice outrage and concern over the decision.

Despite higher education institutions in the US hosting a record-breaking 1.08 million international students in 2016-17, overall the US is experiencing a slowing of growth in international enrolments.

In January 2018, international student numbers were shown to have declined by 5% at graduate level and 2% at undergraduate level between fall 2016 and 2017.

Speaking to The PIE News, CEO of Intead Ben Waxman described the Supreme Court’s decision as another significant blow to the US market – one that could further deter major sources of US international student recruitment.

“Our market research in China just this month showed 84% of Chinese parents interested in a US education for their child track news out of the US and 78% of those following the news indicate less interest in sending their child to the US due to the Trump presidency,” he said.

“US policies and approaches to immigration that hinder cultural exchange are harmful on a very basic human level. If we don’t make the effort to embrace and interact, then the nefarious forces, those living with excessive fear and seeking to tear things apart, will dominate.

“It doesn’t have to be that way,” he added.

 

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