Trump’s rise will have a profound influence on international education. How and to what extent this affect Australia concerns many international students who are interested in Australian education.
An example of how people around the ‘source countries’ for international students have speculated such impact is found in India. Immediately after Trump won America’s presidential election, India’s national daily “Hindustan Time” covered a report about the potential impacts on Indian students wanting to pursue higher education in America.
The Daily featured the news report which is entitled “Is Trump win an ‘unwelcome’ message for Indian Students”? The news added that “Donald Trump’s surprise win as president in the US will give an unwelcoming message to international students. It will hurt the attractiveness of the US as the most preferred destination of choice”.
The Indian media reflects a matter that is of massive concern to both India and the USA. From the business point of view, it is obvious that America makes hundreds of million dollars as University fees from Indian students, with India being the second largest international students supplier to America. Every the year, the number is growing. The international student numbers from India was almost 133,000 in 2015, which is 29.4% more as compared to 2014.
But how would Indian students – and students from other countries like China – react if Trump’s policy does not welcome international students? Obviously, a prudent student would not only think of a great University, but also the post-university career. many students also look for migration and settlement opportunities while studying abroad. Now that the president-elect’s one of the major priorities is to enforce greater barrier in the boarder, international students who have the intention to migrate will think twice before they choose America.
Likely effects on Australia
If International students are forced to think twice about America, will more students choose Australia? How does Trump’s rise affect Australian education? It depends on a combination of at least three things:
- how international students make decisions: to what extent Trump’s pronouncements of restrictive immigration policy affect their choice?
- how Australian higher education industry responds to this change?
- What are the likely ways in which Australian economy and Australia’s international relationship unfolds in the wake of the Trump rise?
These forces shape the trends of international student flow across multiple destination countries. Yet, these forces operate primarily through decision system of students: at the end of the day, it is the students who have to make their decision based on the information that is accessible to them.
One should note that the majority of the international students including Indians, will look for at least three things while choosing either America or Australia for higher studies. Let us look at these more closely.
Firstly, Trump is all set to make visa procedures more stringent for international students with immigration intention, and this news is adding more costs and stress among international students to enter America. During the election campaign, Trump declared greater border restriction for emigration, and after the election, he is all set to amend American visa policies. This will definitely make international students think twice about their choice of the destination country for higher education, and Australia and other countries stand to benefit from the degradation of American reputation at the beginning of the Trump presidency.
Secondly, international students fear dwindling job prospect in the USA. This is important because not all the international students go to America for study only purposes. A large proportion of them want to secure jobs and aspire for their future in the new country, and for many this means to migrate to America after they finish their study. Even if a large number of genuine students are granted visa to study in America, the perception is that the prospects for jobs during Trumps’ tenure will be less, which will force international students to look for Australia as the second best option.
Thirdly, what level of respect the international students and migrant community receive in the USA make a big difference in the life of students and the entire migrant community. As reported by major newspapers from America and elsewhere, the potential risk of racial discrimination and threats to the cultural diversity under Trump’s regime will definitely lessen the attraction of international students from all over the world. A large number of international students are already in a big dilemma even before Trump take over the White Office formally, from the beginning of 2017. This timing is important for international students as the application deadline for 2017 winter session is approaching.
Rising flow of international students to Australia
If Trump’s regime is unwelcoming to international students to come to America, they will obviously look for alternatives. Australia is among the top choices for international students and the trend is rising. In 2015, the students from two giant countries, China and India, made up more than 40% of the total number of international students in Australia. For both countries, the number is growing annually. China, which is the largest supplier of international students to Australia, will continue to be Australia’s biggest market for international students. China sent more than 136,000 students to Australia in 2015 alone which is 13.3% more than the previous year.
According to the Australian government data, India is the second largest supplier of international students to Australia, after China. India sent more than 53,000 students to study in Australian Universities in 2015 alone. Despite a major setback during 2009-2011, from 2012, the number of Indian students coming to Australian is on the rise again. For instance, there was 15.7 % increment in 2015 as compared to the student number in 2014. These trends could only be reinforced in the post-Trump era.
At a time when America is aiming to tighten the border, Australia is opening the door for international talents. Unlike the fear of America’s changing visa policy affecting international students’ entry, Australia’s currently operational Simplified Students Visa Framework (SSVF) can be much easier for international students. SSVF allows Universities to fast track international student visas as compared to the much cumbersome visa processing of the past.
However, in relation to cost, the fees for the international students will rise relative to the US rates, if Trump’s financial policy contributes to the appreciation of US dollar, intentionally or unintentionally, against the AUS dollar.
China – Australia cooperation
Due to the high level of China- Australia interdependency in terms of business and trade, the potential rise in the tuition fee might not be a deciding factor for the majority of the Chinese students to come to Australia. However, students from low-income families can look for an alternative with low tuition fee countries.
With the increased flow of students in Australian Universities, the demand for jobs will also rise. Many international students aim to work part time when doing higher studies in Australia. If jobs remain constant or grow slowly relative to the growing number of international students, the country becomes less attractive to international students. A lot depends on how Australian managers and policy makers of higher education respond to this changing situation.
Australia’s own choice of response to the rise of Trump
As international education is Australia’s third largest export industry, the implication of Trump is not a trivial issue for Australia, as it might benefit from this development, if appropriate responses are made.