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Promising Times Ahead for US International Education After Trump Era and the Pandemic

With the news on countries starting a vaccination program against COVID-19, many are seeing the coming of the end of the pandemic 

shortly. In the United States, for instance, many people are looking forward to a better year with new vaccines and a new administration. The Pfizer vaccine has been given emergency use approval in the US while the Moderna vaccine is expected to follow shortly. Moreover, other 

vaccines are just around the corner. 


Considering these promising developments, many are seeing a new beginning for the USA which bodes well for the international education 

scene not only there but also in other countries that will also be purchasing the new vaccines. From the huge slip in global enrollment 

numbers in 2020, education experts believe that 2021 will be the year of the great comeback.


But will international students go back to their host academic destinations after the pandemic? The signs seem to point to the answer being a resounding yes.

The Global Perspective

MSM Research_The Global Perspective

Based on the survey conducted by QS on nearly 3,000 international students, 57% stated that they expect to begin their studies in 2021. 

These responses are drawn to the actual scenario and developments in the worldwide COVID situation.

MSM Research_QS Survey

International students were also surveyed on their plans for overseas studies. If the health crisis will be mitigated sooner and travel restrictions will be lifted, 67% of global learners aim to begin their studies as early as 2021.

MSM Research_QS Survey Study Abroad

When asked whether they are willing to start classes online while the return of in-campus lectures are still being decided on and threshed out, 43% expressed that they are ready to do so, even for up to six months before face-to-face classes.

MSM Research_QS Survey International Students

Interestingly, when prospective international students were asked just this November whether they are willing to travel if campuses reopen

and face-to-face learning setups return, 45% said that they will be happy to do it. Some 42% on the other hand, stated that they will wait for 

the vaccine before going back to overseas schooling.


Meanwhile, about a quarter of the respondents (21%) said that the news on the impending availability of the COVID-19 vaccine has piqued 

their interest to go back to their study destination of choice earlier next year.

International Students in US Schools After Trump

Apart from the global health crisis, many international students have been shunned away from the United States due to unfriendly 

immigration and study visa policies laid by the Trump administration. The limitations on post-study work opportunities and the proposed 

shortened study period have made US education much less attractive to international students in the past years.


However, with the expected commencement of the new Biden-Harris administration, universities believe that a new plan for international 

education and employment-based immigration can reverse the trends. Education experts believe that the key pillar of this strategy should be to rescind deeply harmful proclamations and executive orders that have had a chilling effect on incoming foreign students. 


Joe Biden is largely expected to issue executive orders on the first day of his presidency repealing the Trump travel ban that restricts travel 

from many Muslim-majority countries.


On his campaign website, Biden calls for increasing the number of visas for permanent, employment-based immigration while providing 

mechanisms for temporarily reducing visas during times of high American unemployment, and exempting foreign graduates of the US Ph.D. 

programs in STEM fields from any visa caps.


Moreover, his website states that “Biden believes that foreign graduates of a US doctoral program should be given a green card with their 

degree and that losing these highly trained workers to foreign economies is a disservice to our economic competitiveness.”


Positively just right after Biden’s win, international students expressed that they see relief as they are expecting that his policies will be less 

xenophobic. Although they do not expect that he will impose drastic changes on visa privileges, international students are at peace that Biden will not come up with harsh policies that will make their lives even more difficult.


Keeping Up with International Students

In line with the seemingly unwavering interest of international students, academic institutions proactively kept engaged with global learners. Based on the report of the Institute of International Education, 84% of American colleges had adopted new international recruitment 

strategies as a result of the COVID crisis. Among the newer approaches of many American universities are Virtual Fairs, 24/7 Recruitment, and partnerships with Education Management providers, such as MSM.


Recruitment events conducted online allow institutions to reach students worldwide at a minimal cost. It also helps foreign students to stay abreast with the new offering of colleges and universities in their target country of destination. Recruitment initiatives undertaken by 

institutions are now also made available online with the help of efficient websites and social media pages where the relevant information for target enrollees is regularly posted. Some schools also now deploy social media managers to attend to queries of prospective foreign enrollees 24/7.


Academic institutions have been trying to keep students engaged even when classes are done remotely. Many of them organize webinars and some free classes that might entice students who are looking for overseas study opportunities.




Transition to Post-Pandemic Education

As discussed in the UNESCO report titled Education in a Post-COVID World: Nine Ideas for Public Action, international education will still 

thrive amid the huge downturn caused by the pandemic as education providers continue to work together for the common good. Part of this great initiative is collaborating to offer open educational resources and open access digital tools which would definitely help students 

attending classes away from their campuses or even those who are miles apart from host universities. 


So although the pandemic and the adverse political climate in the US weighed down on international education in the past year, things are 

truly looking brighter. Let’s all just wait and see how everything pans out while hoping that the COVID-19 vaccines that have come will truly

eventually eradicate the pandemic that caused so much disruption in the global community of learners. (DR. ALEX PARNIA)


#PartnerForLife #HigherEducation #StudentRecruitment #InternationalEducation #MSM

MSM Research_President, MSM USA

President, MSM USA

Dr. Alex Parnia brings more than 35 years of experience performing a variety of successful roles at various academic institutions as a faculty member, campus Dean, Vice-President of Marketing and Enrollment, Executive Vice- President, Provost, and President. He specializes in crafting innovative and scalable solutions and matrices to enable exponential revenue increases for academic institutions. His list of commendable triumphs is never-ending and he has also created leadership programs and taught management and business courses at various academic institutions.

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Data Sources:

COVID-19 Snapshot Survey Series. (n.d.). Retrieved December 12, 2020, from https://www.iie.org/Connect/COVID-19/COVID-19-Snapshot-Survey-Series

Higher Education in 2020: How COVID-19 Shaped this Year. (2020, December 01). Retrieved December 12, 2020, from https://www.qs.com/portfolio-items/higher-education-in-2020-how-covid-19-shaped-this-year/

International Student Enrollment Plummets: Biden Could Bring It Back (2020, November 17).  Retrieved December 12, 2020, from 



Linney, S. (2020, November 12). Reimagining Education After COVID-19. Retrieved December 12, 2020, from https://www.qs.com/reimagining-education-after-covid-19/

What COVID-19 Means for International Students Interested in the US. (2020, November 23). Retrieved December 12, 2020, from https://www.qs.com/portfolio-items/what-covid-19-means-for-international-students-interested-in-the-us/

Related: The 7 Reasons Why Canada is the Best Country for International Students in 2021



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