What an educational disaster would it be to see a combination of Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos aggregate a set of rules that change education in the US for the whole world. Coming from a business and media-centric career to becoming the 45th President of the United States, Trump has surpassed several ‘obstacles’ that he created for himself through his speeches. He being elected as President, came as a distressing surprise to the world, owing to the multitude of his politically incorrect statements and tweets.
Today, as we experience the swearing in ceremony of the much controversial President-elect, here’s a flashback of his judgments and proposals for the US, especially in the arena of education and immigration.
The less educated with high IQs?
In 2013, Trump gallantly tweeted about his high IQ levels, thus calling his followers stupid sympathetically. And recently, when questioned about the low educational bar of his cabinet members as compared to Obama’s administration, he was once again quoted as saying that his cabinet had higher IQ levels despite being less educated. (Read here). While reports suggest that Donald Trump would be the first President of the US in 25 years to not have a graduate degree, the bigger question lingers on the qualifications of his billionaire Education Secretary nominee, Betsy DeVos. While the latter has only a bachelor’s degree from Calvin College, the Secretary of Education in the Obama administration, John King Jr., has a B.A. from Harvard, a master’s degree and doctorate from Columbia, and a law degree from Yale. No. we are not suggesting that high educational qualifications should be the criteria for an Education Secretary of a country; I mean we did rally for that in India in the case of former HRD Minister, Smriti Irani, but we saw how that ended. What is concerning is that after being nominated as the next Secretary of Education, DeVos has displayed, in various media conferences, her confusions about basic terms and the history of the Education Department in the US.
Let’s privatise schools and increase tuiton:
Further, during his political rallies, Trump had strongly suggested privatising student loans in the US to bring in competition in the lending sector. And while DeVos has already stated her plans to gut investments into public schools and universities, it could probably lead to the entry of private investments instead of government funding into educational institutions, thus raising the cost of tuition in the coming years.
After all, DeVos has, since a long time, been a supporter of privatisation of institutes. Now, this is where Indians travelling abroad for higher education should be worried, as considering the heavy exchange rate, an increase in college tuition, will make the US slip out of the budget of many middle-class families.
Of course, as a US college aspirant, students have been trained to think about RoI as the primary parameter, they may still not deter from their dreams to study there, but the anti-immigrant rallies by Trump may put the last straw in the hat. In the aftermath of the US 2016 elections, PaGaLGuY ran articles about opinions of Indian students aspiring for US colleges, dealing with an anti-immigrant president and toughened laws of immigration. While some students said they wouldn’t worry about Trump’s rallies as he had no substance to implement his agendas in the near future, some other students had reported considering Canada or Australia as alternate options to study abroad. (Read student views here and here)
Why aren’t we Indians worried?
But will Indians be affected to that extent as we think? Vibha Kagzi, CEO, ReachIvy, an international education consultant in Mumbai, said, “Trump is a businessman and Indian students being the largest lot of foreign students in the US, bring in millions of dollars in the country through college enrollment. Trump wouldn’t take such a big financial risk. In terms of RoI, Indians in US aren’t seeking white collar jobs. Trump can make policies to bring more Americans to government-funded companies, but the private sector will always be open to specialised talent from India.” (Read here for full interview on job scenario for Indians in the US under the Trump administration) This may, to a great extent be true, as according to the Open Doors reports released last year, immigrants entering the US in 2016 crossed 1 million, with over 1.65 lakh being students from India. It would be rather uneconomical for the US to educate so many lakhs of immigrants and then send them back to their own countries. If Trump is indeed that high on IQ as he says, he may not want touch the existing immigrant student base in US. Thus, one can only hope that the OPT and H1B extention introduced by the Obama government remains intact.
Let’s build a wall for racism:
Donald Trump may or may not stick to his proposed anti-immigrant policies and may hopefully not hamper ties with India, but his propagation alone have given enough gut to his supporters to make immigrants feel unsafe. In the past two months, various cases of racial attacks and discrimination in colleges and offices in the US have surfaced. (Read here).
Immigrants have already reported feeling insecure in a country they have been living and working in for over a decade. Young minds in schools and colleges are being compromised, and recently Betsy DeVos’s stand on staying the guns on campus policy, has terrorised many immigrant families fearing to send their kids to school.
Not just Indians and Chinese, but Mexicans, Africans and Middle Esaterners, all face a probable 4-year term of racism while they hope that their educational and work options do not thwart in the state.
Today, as Trump wears the crown of the 45th President of the United States and pledges to ‘make America great again’, immigrants and students to the US from around the world will still be lingering on the prospects of a country transitioning from its immigrant friendly image to one that builds walls between its neighbouring nations. But hey, for all we know, it may not be as long as the Great Wall of China.