Stu­dents Fear They May Not be Wel­come in Trump’s Amer­ica

Un­sure of US pres­i­dent’s poli­cies on for­eign stu­dents and work­ers, In­di­ans study­ing in Amer­ica fret about fu­ture prospects

The Economic Times - - Front Page -

Sreer­adha D Basu & Varuni Khosla

Mum­bai | New Delhi: “I see that there are two dif­fer­ent Amer­i­cas. One Amer­ica is cheer­ing Trump on as he did ex­actly what he said and what mil­lions voted for. But in uni­ver­si­ties and cities, the vast ma­jor­ity are shocked and angry at what has been hap­pen­ing,” said an In­dian PhD stu­dent at the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (MIT). US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­ders re­strict­ing en­try into the coun­try and re­ports of curbs be­ing planned on for­eign stu­dents and work­ers are wor­ry­ing In­di­ans at col­leges there. Oth­ers are re­con­sid­er­ing plans for higher ed­u­ca­tion in the US con­sid­er­ing the hos­tile re­cep­tion that awaits them.

The pres­i­dent could scrap a mea- sure that al­lows some stu­dents to stay on in the US for three years af­ter get­ting their de­gree, it’s been re­ported by and oth­ers.

“I was look­ing to use that as a run­way to set up a tech­nol­ogy startup,” said the MIT stu­dent cited above. “Do­ing it in one year will be in­cred­i­bly hard. It com­pli­cates things for those who want to pur­sue en­trepreneur­ship.”

That worry is de­spite the fact that those from MIT, es­pe­cially PhDs, are highly cov­eted by em­ploy­ers and tend to get an­nual pay up­wards of $90,000 af­ter grad­u­a­tion.

Op­tional prac­ti­cal train­ing (OPT) cur­rently al­lows grad­u­ates with sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics (STEM) de­grees to stay in the US for up to three years af­ter grad­u­at­ing from col­lege. Cur­tail­ing that pe­riod will hurt the plans of some 165,918 In­dian stu­dents in the US with about three-fourths of them be­ing in STEM pro­grammes.

Pos­si­ble changes to H-1B visa rules and key Trump aide Stephen Ban­non’s ap­par­ent an­tipa­thy to­ward South Asians are also prey­ing on the minds of stu­dents.

Many uni­ver­si­ties have spo­ken out against Trump’s controversial ex­ec­u­tive or­der on im­mi­gra­tion and have been vo­cal about wel­com­ing for­eign stu­dents even be­fore he took over. Top US col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties in­clud­ing Yale, North­west­ern and Univer­sity of Vir­ginia launched a cam­paign to re­as­sure over­seas stu­dents that their cam­puses would al­ways be wel­com­ing to en­rolled and as­pir­ing for­eign schol­ars just weeks af­ter Trump won the election.

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