Recently, I posted a link on my Facebook page and Twitter feed to share NAFSA‘s release of the latest data from their International Student Economic Value Tool. The EVT is basically a study that NAFSA does each year to provide an idea of the economic contribution that each international student makes to his/her local community, showing the data at state and national levels.
NAFSA’s data indicated that 1,043,839 international students who studied in the USA during the 2015/16 school year contributed $32.8 billion to the American economy (via tuition, living expenses, etc.), and supported more than 400,000 jobs in the US economy.
My posts on social media basically said that I was hopeful that President-elect Trump and members of his administration would consider information of this nature before instituting policies that could have a negative impact on immigration and student visa regulations.
One of the people who follows my posts sent me a message asking me if I realized that the issue was illegal immigration and that, to his knowledge, there was not any discussion from President-elect Trump about curbing student visa programs.
I don’t get it
The comment really made me think about the situation that we are in, post-election. I thought this was a very interesting comment because A) it came from an educated and highly experienced professional outside of my field that I have known and respected for many years; and B) it was a reminder to me that people who work outside of International Education likely do not understand the potential effect (or, at least, the perceptions of the potential effects) that Donald Trump’s plans may have on our field.
But how does that explain people who work in International Education and voted for Trump?
This is actually an issue that I have not been able to understand since Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination for president. Why would anyone who works in International Education vote for this man? No matter how open-minded I try to be, I just can’t find the answer to that question. My only conclusion is that there must be some difference in perception of how Trump policies could negatively affect on our industry.
In my opinion, a vote for Trump by an International Educator is a vote for us to lose our jobs–or, at least, to have a much more difficult time recruiting, admitting, and yielding international students in our programs.
This is not a rant
Please do not misunderstand me. I’m not writing this post to complain about a Trump presidency. As I said in my latest blog post, the election happened, it’s done, and, frankly, this is America–half of us may “lose” an election, but we need to suck it up and move on. We need to keep living our lives and keep trying to make positive impacts in our own spheres of influence.
This also is not meant to be a “dig” or an attack on anyone’s voting preference. We voted how we voted on November 8th, and it’s done.
That being said, I will say again: this is America. We have the right to free speech and to our opinions. In my opinion, anyone who works in International Education and who voted for Trump may simply not know how his plans can affect us. Others who work outside of the field may simply be interested in how those who do perceive Trump policies as threats to our livelihood.
Trump vs. International Education: The way I see it
With all of this in mind, I have decided to write a series of blog posts that talk about various Trump policies (as indicated in his plan for the first 100 days of his presidency) to point out my concerns about their potential impact on aspects of International Education.
I promise that my posts will not be rants; they will simply point out some of the issues the way that I perceive them and, hopefully, they will be “food for thought” for my colleagues in this field.
My first post will include my response to my friend that I mentioned above (who asked me if I understood that the Trump administration has not indicated any intent to curb the student visa program). It includes some recent student mobility data, as well. Stay tuned!