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What Does Biden Mean for Business Schools?

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Biden Presidency May Boost U.S. B-Schools

Now that the U.S. presidential election is behind us, business schools and applicants alike are wondering what a new administration will mean for U.S.-based MBA programs.  Considering the impact the Trump administration has had on the immigration equation for higher education, it is no surprise that many are curious about what to expect.  At Clear Admit, we think that the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is a net positive for graduate management education in the United States.

Here are five reasons:

  1. The Leaning Tower of Student Visas: The Trump administration had sought to limit the duration of visas to just two years in some instances (depending on nationality). Joe Biden has vowed to preserve the system in which visas last for the duration of one’s studies, and are not limited based on a student’s nationality.
  2. Joe’s down with OPT: The Optional Practical Training program allows international students to stay in the United States and work for 1 year upon completion of their MBAs. The STEM version of OPT, for which many MBA programs now qualify, extends OPT eligibility to 3 years.  This entire program was on the chopping block under the Trump administration, but with the Biden administration taking the White House it looks more likely to remain in place.
  3. H1-B or Not To Be: Donald Trump has frozen the H1-B visa program, much to the dismay of tech companies. Based on Biden’s statements, he is very likely going to un-freeze the H1-B program and bring more talent to the USA.  During a digital town hall meeting in June, Biden said: “The people coming on these [H-1B] visas have built this country.”
  4. Hey Nineteen: For some international students, the Trump administration’s inability to contain the spread of COVID-19 across America has been a deterrent to relocating to the USA. In fairness, the virus is spreading rapidly in other major markets for higher education too (UK, EU), but there is a sense that the Trump administration has been more laissez faire in their approach.  A Biden presidency likely means greater coordination in the fight against the virus – and an increased likelihood of a return to in-person education for Fall 2021.
  5. Make America Immigrant-Friendly Again: Over the course of the Trump presidency, international students have carefully watched as proposals were put forth to curtail student visas, practical training programs, and work permits. Beyond that, these actions were paired with a steady stream of nationalist rhetoric from the White House, sending a strong signal that the Trump administration wasn’t exactly excited to welcome international students to the United States.  The Biden presidency will promote a far more welcoming, empathetic, and inclusive environment for international students.  The Vice President-elect herself is the child of two immigrants – with her parents having moved to America from India (mother) and Jamaica (father) to study at UC Berkeley.

American business schools seem poised to benefit from a Biden presidency in the near-term.  More than anything else, Biden seems to truly believe in the importance of attracting talent to the US shores.  In a Facebook post this past July, he stated the following:

“Across the world, people come to this country with unrelenting optimism and determination toward the future.  They study here, they innovate here, they make America who we are.” -Joe Biden

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