The Trump administration
A few months after the UK announced their exit from the EU, the United States elected Donald J Trump their 45th president in November 2016 (Roberts, Siddi-qui, Jacobs, Gambino, & Holpuch, 2016). President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal sees reduced funding to the Education Department by more than 13%. This reduction in spending is in order to offset more than $50 billion in increases for the Department of Defence, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2017). The budget included cuts to institutions like the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation which contributes funds toward academic research as well as plans to eliminate programs that aid primarily low-income and minority students. The proposed budget involves nearly S200 million in cuts for federal programs that help disadvantaged students make it into and through college. The combination of these budget cuts with restrictive immigration policies threatens America’s supremacy in science and technology (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2017).
Budget issues for higher education
In June 2017, the US president’s proposed budget was condemned by his own party’, as the appropriations panel in the House of Representatives released a 2018 spending bill that rejects most of the Trump Administration’s proposed changes (Lederman, 2017). The legislation sees lower overall spending on education but still preserves most major programs important to higher education. Programs like the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Program and Federal Work-Study Program will attain the same level of funding, even though the Trump Administration proposed the former to be eliminated and a reduction to the latter. Similarly, in stark contrast to the proposed budget, the National Institute of Health (NIH) will see increased spending by more than 1 billion dollars, instead of the proposed cuts (Lederman, 2017). Later in September 2017 a Senate Subcommittee approved an increase of 2 billion dollars in funding to the NIH, almost twice the numbers approved by the House of Representatives. The agency is the world’s largest source of public research funding and the Senate’s financial backing is welcome news to research universities and researchers worldwide (Kelly, 2017). The Senate spending bill would also block a Trump proposal to cut NIH payments to cover the overhead costs of research (Kaiser, 2017).
The Senate’s 2018 budget would also increase the size of the Pell program’s maximum grant but it would subsequently recall a large portion of the 10 billion dollar surplus (3.9 billion dollars) from the program’s reserves (Lederman, 2017). The Pell program is the primary source of federal grant aid for millions of students from low-income families (Douglas-Grabriel, 2017). Nearly two-thirds of African American Undergraduates, and more than half of the Latino Undergraduates, receive Pell funding which only covers a small proportion of the total cost of attending a public four-year college (Douglas-Grabriel, 2017).
Declines in international students to the US
International students studying in the US are also affected by new legislation. Early in 2017 President Trump suspended the expedited processing of the H-1B visas. The visas are used by universities to hire postdoctoral researchers and by international students to find graduate employment (Bothwell, 2017). The suspension will make it ven' difficult for international students to remain in the US after graduation (Cooper & Dennis, 2017). O’Malley suggests that the stricter visa requirements on international students may also be to the detriment of the America.
A study was conducted by the NFAP (National Foundation for American Policy) which shows that international students dominate graduate STEM programmes and that many graduate level programmes in science and engineering fields would be unavailable for American students without international students (O’Malley, 2017). “At approximately 90% of US universities, the majority of full-time graduate students (masters and PhDs) in computer science and electrical engineering are international students”. The study recommends that the US maintain reasonable visa policies for international students and making it easier for them to find work after graduation (O’Malley, 2017).
Redden (2017) reports recent survey results which show that thirty-nine% of American Universities are seeing declines in applications from international students at Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels. The survey was conducted by six higher education groups (American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, the Institute of International Education, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and NACAC’s internationally focused subgroup, International ACAC) in February' 2017. The declines can be attributed to the students and recruiting professionals, mostly being concerned about visas and perceptions of a less-welcoming climate in the country (Redden, 2017). The survey findings show the largest declines from students in the Middle-East, China and India. China and India account for nearly half of all international students in the US (Redden, 2017). Bothwell (2017) quoted Mary' Sue Coleman, the president of the Association of American Universities, when saying that visa changes in the US would “severely' undermine universities’ abilities to bring the world’s best and brightest ... students, educators, and scientists into the country'” (p. 2). Cooper and Dennis (2017) suggest that the recent perceptions held by international students, not feeling welcome in the US and UK, coupled with restricted mobility of
Rankings, politics and geography 111 academics, will surely lead to a loss of existing and prospective talent. UK and US policy may still change in the years to come, especially with regards to the lengthy Brexit negotiations, however, it will take some time to remedy the effects of current perceptions and reality (Cooper & Dennis, 2017).