Trump’s politics are turning off India’s brightest from US business schools

Maybe I’ll just stay home instead.
Maybe I’ll just stay home instead.
Image: Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn
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President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric is making Indian and other international students think twice about studying in the US.

Around 64% of MBA programmes in the country reported a decline in applications from international students, compared to a year earlier, according to an ongoing survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council, the company that administers the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).

“This downturn comes as international business school candidates—notably from China and India—are monitoring ongoing U.S. political discourse on immigration policy and questioning whether to go abroad for business school,” GMAC said in a statement. The company collected responses from 324 US MBA programmes as part of its annual Preliminary Application Trends Survey. Many of these programmes are about halfway through with their admission cycles.

The survey found that students are increasingly worried about the effects of Trump’s presidency on their careers. In March, 41% of international business school candidates said they were less likely to study in the US because of the presidential election, up from 35% in November 2016, GMAC said. That’s because work visas are an essential consideration, particularly for Indian students, and Trump’s “America First” approach and moves to tighten immigration policy have made the possibility of staying back after graduation deeply uncertain.

Around 86% of Indian business school candidates surveyed by GMAC in February said they would reconsider their study destination if it became impossible to get a work visa, far above the overall international student figure of 65%. Out of the Chinese candidates surveyed, for instance, 61% said the same.

And though the US was still the preferred study destination of over 50% of the Indian business school candidates, GMAC says there has been “considerable erosion,” with many shifting their focus to other countries. For a number of Indians (24%), that has meant staying back home, instead, or looking to Canada (7%).