(November 2020) How would international education in the United States, the world’s top destination for international students worldwide, fare under US presidential candidate Joe Biden’s leadership?
The possibilities look good as Biden would be more open to international education, according to two leading higher education experts in the United States. His win is deemed fertile ground for higher education institutions (HEIs) to strengthen their international education programs.
One day before the end of voting for the US presidential election, international education provider M Square Media (MSM) hosted the webinar “The American Presidential Election 2020 and the Future of Higher Education” featuring Dr. Debbie Freund, President Emerita at Claremont Graduate University, and Fred Siegel, Former Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management, George Washington University. Dr. Alex Parnia, President of MSM-USA, facilitated the session.
Support for International Students
“Democrats are likely to openly support the initiatives to push international students to come into the US as Biden’s party recognizes the value of foreign students and their contribution to the economy,” said Siegel, who for four decades handled key positions in various institutions, including Boston University, University of Delaware, and Claremont Graduate University.
He added that if Trump remains in office, his administration would be less inclined to help public colleges and universities, citing that since he assumed office in 2016, Trump has made drastic changes in the immigration policies that have eventually discouraged international students from enrolling in the country.
If public colleges and universities were to gain more support from the next administration, private academic institutions may be driven to lower their tuition fees which, in turn, would
attract more international students to enroll, Siegel said.
Echoing Siegel’s insight, Freund believes that tuition hikes will most likely be out of the picture because of the pandemic-induced economic downturn. As most students gradually transfer to state-run colleges and universities due to the pandemic, private educational institutions will make the necessary adjustments to match the matriculation considerations of future enrollees.
Siegel, on the other hand, raised the probability of a drop in enrollment numbers due to the pandemic, emphasizing the importance of collaborations among universities and colleges to address challenges from the COVID-19 situation.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the education sector has implemented various changes to provide aid to students. Notably, the standard admission requirements for students, such as SATs and TOEFL, have been temporarily dropped and schools now only rely on grades as a basis for enrollment qualification. This is one of the many innovative approaches the sector can do to tackle the current health crisis, Siegel said.
Resilience and Inclusive Global Education
Both Freund and Siegel pointed out that no matter who wins the presidential election, the future for international students in the US will remain bright, expressing faith that HEIs will continue to innovate and push for high-quality education that’s inclusive for global learners.
Freund cited the “continuing resilience” of the American higher education system despite the challenges in government leadership, the pandemic, and potential changes in immigration policy.
“The existing utilization of technologies by the academic sector and the creativity with the learning options will definitely help the foreign students keep abreast of the core of top-quality American education,” said Freund, who made her rounds in various leadership roles at institutions like Syracuse University and Indiana University Bloomington.
Freund further noted that if its proactive approach during the pandemic is any indication, the academe will continue to come up with more unprecedented and innovative ways to offer better education to international students. This in turn will make the US more welcoming of foreign students and provide an opportunity for heavily impacted HEIs to recover from the sharp decline in enrollment numbers due to the global health crisis.
The panel also advised prospective students seeking to study in the US to overlook school rankings and widen their perspective, considering that there are many institutions that may not be as popular but are equally good.
Freund pointed out that the research evidence shows that all students, including those from abroad, do best at a college or university where they feel most welcome and socially comfortable. Students should consider small as well as large institutions as a result.
“It’s important for higher education to come together to pick up the pieces in the wake of the deep political polarization and lasting effects of the pandemic,” said Parnia, who leads the US business of MSM. The organization builds global and in-country offices and manages agents on behalf of partner universities and colleges, aiming to increase their international enrollment and help diversify their campuses.
This webinar is part of the MSM Live! Expert Interact series of MSM to bring its partner institutions, agents, and industry professionals together amid travel and mobility restrictions. See the updated MSM Live! schedule here: https://msquaremedia.com/msm-live/.
About M Square Media
M Square Media (MSM) is a leading service provider in international education and other sectors. We offer a wide range of global business solutions to clients including, international business development, market research and deep opportunity analysis, sourcing sales channel partnerships, market entry strategy, market expansion, lead generation, brand development, finance and accounting management, payroll and expense management, tax compliance and corporate administrative services, staff recruitment, local representation, HR support, and ready-to-go office space. Read more about MSM.
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