Section 3: Basic Facts – are the concerns likely to come true?
Now that the election fever has died down a little, and the transition is in progress, let us examine the status of each of the six main campaign promises above:
- Building the Wall: This is the least likely promise to be carried out, as it is not very feasible. A wall alone would not keep illegal immigrants out – given the existing tunnels through the border. In addition, rivers and other natural formations make a continuous wall impossible, to say nothing of the improbability of Mexico agreeing to pay for it. It is clear then that this is primarily rhetoric, and that it will have no impact on the number of seats for international students in US colleges, or on the size of the job market for these students once they graduate
- Repealing ObamaCare: This, once again, does not impact the education budget, and most analysts seem to agree that Trump will keep many aspects of this system, possibly under a different name. This again, will have no negative impact
- Investigation of Hillary Clinton: This has already been deprioritized by the new administration. No negative impact
- Job Creation in the United States: In addition to this, the promise also includes its complement, ensuring that jobs currently in the US do not move out of the country. The best way to create more jobs in a developed economy is by encouraging entrepreneurs, and a large number of entrepreneurs in America are Indian. In addition, Trump has reiterated – multiple times – that he wants to keep bright students in the US post graduation from a course there, and that bright Indians are welcome. This is, again, likely to maintain status quo; it will definitely not harm the chances of Indians looking to apply for jobs there post graduation
- Making education free for Americans: This is a fascinating supply – demand problem, and we analyze it in detail at the end of this section. The short answer: subsidized college education for American students implies that more international students will have to be admitted to keep revenues for universities constant. This is actually a point in favour of applicants abroad!
- Eradication of ISIS: With an increased defence budget, additional government aid to universities will be all but ruled out. This ties in with the previous point; since Uncle Sam will probably not help universities with additional grants, universities will have to increase international student intake. This is another force acting in favour
For those who are looking for some more detail on how free college education for Americans might end up favouring international applicants, one only has to look at the current split of seats. Most universities across the US are split 35 – 65 as far as students are concerned, with 65% to 70% of seats going to American students. If Trump pushes through legislation that entitles these students to pay no fees, universities will still need to meet an overall fee collection target; and they will need this to ensure that the facilities they provide to their students remain world class.
The only reliable way to do this is to increase intake of international students – history shows that this has happened in the past as well, for universities who needed funds with various important projects. As discussed above, a projected increase in defence spending all but guarantees that additional government funds to universities will not happen in the near future, and that they will be constrained to increase international intake.