After Joe Biden was projected to win the United States presidential election, business schools in the US may have breathed a collective sigh of relief.
The Trump presidency is marked by difficulties for US business schools, with over 50 US business school deans signing a historic open letter demanding changes to Trump’s immigration policy.
The hope now is that a Biden administration will reverse some of Trump’s more disruptive policies and provide a stable environment for US business schools to prosper.
So what could change under Biden?
The extent to which Trump has impacted applications to US schools is up for debate. While 2019’s 13.7% drop in international applications to the US triggered the open letter penned to the president, applications rebounded significantly in 2020.
However, how the US was perceived as a study destination by international students was damaged by Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric and policies.
Trump’s recent time limit on the F1 Visa (the student visa) also limits flexibility for international students and could even block the prospect of studying in the first place for students from certain countries.
Biden has vocally criticized Trump’s approach to immigration and visas in the past, labelling them as “racist”. Under a Biden presidency, the hope is that the US will be seen as more welcoming destination for internationals with the visa policies to match.
Scott Edinburgh, admissions consultant and CEO of Personal MBA Coach, says:
“A Biden victory should be a welcome result for international candidates, as immigration restrictions should be eased and visas, particularly after graduation, may be more accessible.”
Brighter jobs market
Coronavirus is impacting employment opportunities post-business school. For the Biden administration, the pressure is on to build economic recovery, in order to guarantee jobs and restore faith in post-business school employment opportunities.
The initial signs are good. Moody’s predicts a bright economic outlook under Biden, with 18.6 million new jobs and an unemployment rate of just over 4%, by the second half of 2022.
Trump temporarily suspended the issuing of any new H-1B work visas for foreign workers looking for work in the United States until the end of 2020. It’s likely Biden’s policies would favor a rollback of Trump’s work visa restrictions, coupled with the spending necessary to lift the US out of a slump.
Stephen Taylor, research director at admissions consultancy Liaison International, says:
“A Biden administration would show at least an attempt at the opposite [of what Trump has done] which would be to a reconciliation process trying to pull apart some of these executive orders, and trying to slow and then stop the pandemic so businesses can truly continue to open.”
The value of your degree
Companies still plan to recruit business school graduates despite coronavirus. In the Graduate Management Admission Council’s Corporate Recruiters Survey, 89% of recruiters surveyed in summer of 2020 said they planned to hire MBAs in 2021.
MBA graduates can also still expect to earn six figures, allowing them to recoup the cost of their program relatively quickly. Despite the recent political upheaval, the value of an MBA or business master's degree in the US is set to remain.
What remains at risk is the diversity of US business school programs. Learning with students from all over the world—with different backgrounds and perspectives—is one of the core benefits of pursuing a business school degree. And diversity in the classroom has been shown to improve creativity, critical thinking, and cognitive skills.
Trump’s anti-immigration policies threatened this diversity. The hope is that a Biden administration will repair the reputational damage and usher in a more welcoming atmosphere for internationals, making it easier for people to study and start new careers and lives the US.
The main image of this article is credited to Gage Skidmore and used under this license