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Thursday, 2 February 2017

STUDYING IN THE USA


I have always made it a rule on this blog not to get directly involved in anything too political or controversial. However, we are living in controversial times. The question of tertiary education in America for foreign students is, I believe, a subject that I could not pass by. Over the past week or so, I have had calls from parents about their sons and daughters, plus visits from KY students all worried about where they stand vis a vis studying at a US university. I am not able to give them much help or guidance, I'm afraid. We are told that the restrictions on people being allowed access to the States currently in place, will not last beyond an initial 90 days. Meanwhile, the media feeding-frenzy and the chaos resulting from President Trump's Executive Order has left many people, including all of us here at KYUEM confused and concerned.

I can only suggest this: wait and see, at least for now. The other night I saw the President of American Universities being interviewed on CNN. He was outwardly diplomatic and conciliatory, but you couldn't help noticing that he was still pretty upset. US universities over the decades have consistently relied on picking the best overseas talent available to enhance their reputation for world-class excellence. Readers of this blog will know that I annually publish the THES World University Rankings. By far the most entries year on year are from the US. I cannot believe the new president will allow the international prestige that this bestows on America to be diminished; he just needs time to see how self-defeating his recent action has been.

This is the optimistic scenario - that wise counsel will ultimately prevail, and that we have nothing to be overly concerned about. The flip side is what happens if Mr. Trump decides to go further and add other states such as Malaysia to his list of banned countries? I cannot see much likelihood of that happening, but we seem to be dealing, at least for now, with a president (and an administration) who acts first and thinks afterwards.

My rather inadequate advice is for all concerned to keep abreast of developments and treat each news story with care - it may well turn out to be distorted or overstated. For our seniors, their focus should be on getting good A2 grades. Thankfully, the vast majority of them have applied to universities in the UK, and it is to be hoped that those who have chosen the US have also submitted UCAS applications as a backup. For the juniors, you don't have to worry about university applications until next semester, so for now, concentrate on your AS exams and defer any thoughts of where you want to go until later.

In a month or two's time, the dust will have settled a bit and we should have a clearer picture. For now, studying must remain our single most important priority. This is the semester when all we have been working towards comes to fruition. In the meantime, I hope to be writing more encouraging words in the weeks to come.

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