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The Trump Effect on America’s Higher Education System

What happens when one of the most controversial candidates in recent political history is elected to presidency in the United States of America? According to the World Wide Web, and a considerable number of hashtags, the Trump Effect is born. But what exactly is the Trump Effect and what does it mean for America’s higher education system?

The term emerged after a report by the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was titled “The Trump Effect: The Impact of the Presidential Campaign on our Nation’s Schools.” The report claimed Trump’s campaign had caused racial tension to surface in America’s classrooms. Subsequently, the term has been adopted more broadly to refer to Trump’s impact on different aspects of the education system – including American universities.

Within his first week as President, Trump moved quickly to deliver one of his presidential campaign’s key promises; the controversial ‘Muslim ban’, which had sparked global outrage. The ban involved temporarily blocking citizens from seven countries (each with Muslim-majority populations) such as Syria, Iran, Libya, and Iraq, from entering America.

Although the ban’s legality is still contested, the executive order has seen immediate consequences. A survey conducted by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars (AACRAO) found that nearly 40% of colleges are receiving fewer international applicants; put simply, the Trump Effect in action. The Middle East shows the most significant decline, with potential students fearing an unwelcoming environment bolstered by Trump’s racially motivated rhetoric.

“A number of my non-white peers (especially from the seven countries [singled out for the ban] or with precarious immigration status) have felt unsafe”, says Miranda, a British MA student studying anthropology in New York.

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