Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 3 December 2020

Joe Biden victory to encourage more UAE students to study in the US

Numbers declined during the Donald Trump era because of unfavourable immigration policies and difficulties securing visas

Shireen Shikooh, an Emirati pupil in Dubai, hopes to study at a US university next year. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Shireen Shikooh, an Emirati pupil in Dubai, hopes to study at a US university next year. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election will encourage more UAE students to study in America, it

is being claimed.

Under Donald Trump’s administration, the number of such students in the US declined because of unfavourable immigration policies and difficulties in securing visas.

A report in 2018 showed the number of UAE students choosing to study in the US had actually dropped for the first time in a decade.

But now UAE students and education experts forecast a surge.

“With Biden’s victory and Kamala Harris as vice-president elect, I feel a greater sense of comfort as an Emirati student planning to study in the US,” said Shireen Shikooh, 17, an Emirati pupil in Dubai.

With Biden winning, I am definitely more inclined to go to the US

Shireen Shikooh, Emirati

“I was trying to decide between the UK and the US but, with Biden winning, I am definitely more inclined to go to the US.”

The Year-13 pupil at Nord Anglia International School Dubai hopes to study psychology next year at Columbia University or New York University.

Ms Shikooh was concerned if being a Muslim and an Arab would affect her application.

“I think Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would be more inclusive and have greater consideration for how regulations affect international students and immigrants in the country,” she said.

Education experts agreed that Mr Biden’s victory would likely lead to more interest from students here.

“This is great news for international students,” said Peter Davos, founder of the Hale Education Group, an education consultancy that helps students apply to US universities.

“Families have been holding back and watching how the election played out,” he said. “They wanted to see who would take power and now they know it’s OK to go back.”

In 2017, the US government introduced an entry ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. There was also the so-called extreme vetting of visa applicants and an increase in hate crimes against Muslims.

This made many people feel insecure about studying in the US.

Mr Biden has promised to overturn this ban as soon as he takes office in January.

Peter Davos, founder of Hale Education Group, in Dubai. He said Joe Biden's victory would sput more students from the region to study in the US. Ravindranath K / The National 
Peter Davos, founder of Hale Education Group, in Dubai. He said Joe Biden's victory would sput more students from the region to study in the US. Ravindranath K / The National 

Mr Davos said that, in the past four years, students were looking for options elsewhere – such as Canada – because of difficulties in getting US visas.

Mr Trump’s administration wanted to introduce a policy under which an international student could stay in the US for a maximum period of four years.

At present, students can stay in the country for as long as they wish if they are studying at a college or a university. Now Mr Trump’s plans will not go ahead.

“There was increasing anxiety,” Mr Davos said. “Now, I have lots of exciting emails from students we sent to the US.”

Jana Charchar, a Syrian-American pupil in Dubai, wants to study business and film in California.

Because of Mr Trump’s immigration policies, she was looking at studying in Europe despite having a US passport.

“If Trump was re-elected the US would not have been my top choice, as I would not be able to see my family,” said Ms Charchar.

“I am hoping all of Trump’s ridiculous bans would be revoked and the US would become a more accepting place especially for students,” said Ms Charchar, 17.

“I feel Biden has a bigger heart and I am hoping the Muslim ban is lifted, and we can go to the US without any difficulties.”

Updated: November 11, 2020 12:55 PM

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