Political shift in the US: Policies, Actions, and the Impact on Prospective African Students

Source: Bola Lawal, Cofounder and CEO, ScholarX Inc. Twitter: @bwlofhouston, IG: @chelseabwl www.scholarx.co

The results of the November 2016 US elections came as a huge surprise to so many across the globe. Especially in Africa; where the Democrats are typically seen in a much more favorable light. Ironically, some argue that in recent years; Republican governments have done more for Africa, in terms of grants and other programs than the Democrats. Whatever the case may be; the US has always been a key destination for African students who seek quality education from top universities in various cities across the US. So, will this change now that Donald Trump has taken over as the new President of the United States? Only time will tell. 
Uncertainties
The recently suspended Executive Order that restricts the travel into the US; of citizens of 7 Muslim nations has led to an increased level of fear and anxiety. Especially amongst those seeking student visas to the US. The question is, is this a first of many executive orders; where restrictions on student visas will be instituted? Again, time will tell.
Positives
While it may seem a little gloomy from the outside, things may not change much. Look at the nature US Universities (public and private), while most of them are not-for-profit, they still rely on tuition and other forms of funding to carry out their operations. And tuition from international students remain a huge component in their funding structure. Thus, new laws/policies that will significantly affect the inflow of international students will meet strong resistance from the universities. One could argue that this is a scenario where lobbyist will come in handy; in terms of ensuring that Congress does not pass any of such laws/policies. 
Furthermore, there have been various publications on US universities pushing for an increase in their intake of international students, especially from Africa. For example, Nigerian students’ enrollment in the U.S. higher education institutions had increased more than 25% in the past five years. And similar trends can be seen from other parts of the continent. Also with technology being a mainstay in the global economy, schools are pushing to recruit more students into STEM programs, and Africa seems to be a focus area, for both undergraduate and graduate levels
Alternatives
As stated earlier, US remains a major study Abroad destination, however there are other counties with comparable or better education system, are actively seeking an increase in the number of foreign students in their institutions. This is evident in the huge sums invested in international student’s scholarships; as well as promoting an environment where there’s a clear path to gaining resident status after graduation. Countries like Canada, Sweden, Taiwan and so on are examples

In conclusion, it is my hope no drastic step is taken to mess things up, rather pass laws/policies that will encourage more international students to come over to the US and impact the system positively. 
This is a situation that we’ll continue to monitor closely and you can expect more posts from me! ☺