Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration’s policies have made a lot of changes to higher education during his time. During his first days in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden signed various Executive Orders to reverse Trump’s regulations, and some of those changes are related to higher education.
It is also worth noting that Biden’s wife, U.S. First Lady Jill Biden, is an educator and has taught in a community college. The first lady’s occupation can be a strong factor for increased support in the education sector, especially in community colleges.
Read on to find out the possible changes in the U.S. higher education system in a Biden administration.
Safer Campuses Due to a Better COVID-19 Response
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought in a lot of changes in how higher education institutions and their stakeholders do things. In fact, a lot of interactions, transactions, and school processes have gone online, including international education.
A lot of the orders Biden signed are meant to bolster the country’s COVID-19 response, something that was more often ignored by his predecessor.
One of the executive orders Biden signed right after his inauguration is meant to create a unified government response to fight COVID-19. Another executive order he signed aims to ensure there’s a data-driven response to COVID-19 to help in better decision-making.
The United States currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide. In response, the Biden administration has made itself clear that it wants to control the spread of the virus and protect the citizens from infection. The executive orders he signed are sure to help in increasing the protections in schools through safety protocols and policies.
Growth in International Student Enrollment
The number of international students enrolling in the United States went on a decline after Trump took charge. It is no secret that the Trump administration was more strict with people going to the United States and that includes students. In fact, from around 300,000 in 2016, the latest number of enrollees in 2020 had dropped to around 260,000.
Visa restrictions and policies from the Trump administration exposed more international students to the dangers of deportation or re-entry bans. As a result, many international students felt discouraged from pursuing a U.S. education.
This decline is also reflected in a recent report by international education provider M Square Media. The MSM report, which surveyed respondents engaged in the education agency business, shows that the United States lags behind Canada, Australia, and the UK when it comes to destinations international students want to study in.
This situation may change in the time of the Biden administration, which has made itself clear that it will steer away from the previous administration’s isolationism. Biden has proposed immigration reform that would make it easier for international students to stay in the United States after graduating in science or engineering courses. This reform has earned a lot of praise from various U.S. higher education institutions as it will encourage more international students to enroll.
More Focus on Workforce Training
When the former U.S. President Barack Obama was still in office, he assigned then-Vice President Biden to create a plan to prepare Americans for “ready-to-be-filled-jobs.” Now, Biden plans to make a $50 billion investment in workforce training, which also includes strengthening mentorships and partnership programs between colleges and other stakeholders to increase the number of workers in high-demand industries.
Prioritization of Science and Research
Trump’s continuous denial of climate change and downplaying of COVID-19 has affected the scientific community greatly during his term. Data-driven policies and decisions were ignored and scientists’ credibilities were questioned.
This snubbing of science has been happening for quite some time, however. According to the Association of American Universities, federal investment in research and development has been on the decline since 1976.
The good news is that Biden has made it clear in his interviews and statements that he will prioritize funding in science and technology, including at research universities. In an interview with Pod Save America, Biden said he wanted to increase their funding to be able to compete internationally.
Greater Access to Higher Education
Last but not least is higher education will be more accessible to learners. Biden has emphasized his strong support for reducing the costs of going to college. Some measures would be the canceling of student loans, which have burdened graduates and hindered the less privileged from obtaining higher education.
Aside from student loan debt cancellation, Biden also plans to invest in college facilities and technology.
In conclusion, the Biden administration is sure to bring in lots of changes to U.S. higher education institutions. Although there are still a lot of specifics to be discussed and operationalized, the future for education in the United States now sure looks brighter.
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