Anxiety Persists for MBAs Despite Court Rebuke of Immigration Ban

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Last week, a three-member panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit refused the Trump administration’s call to reinstate a ban barring the entry of all refugees and visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries into the United States. Although the case could still advance to the Supreme Court, yesterday’s ruling means that, for now, the executive order signed by President Donald Trump two weeks ago remains unenforceable.

That’s good news for international students from the affected countries, some of whom were detained at airports attempting to return to campus from overseas travel, others of whom were forced to cancel plans to leave the United States for fear they might not be allowed back in.

States Cite Harm to Higher Education as Major Reason for Opposing Ban

In affirming that the states of Washington and Minnesota had legal standing to bring the case against the immigration ban, the appellate judges specifically cited the ban’s injurious impact on the states’ public universities.

An excerpt from the ruling:

“Specifically, the States allege that the teaching and research missions of their universities are harmed by the Executive Order’s effect on their faculty and students who are nationals of the seven affected countries. These students and faculty cannot travel for research, academic collaboration, or for personal reasons, and their families abroad cannot visit. Some have been stranded outside the country, unable to return to the universities at all. The schools cannot consider attractive student candidates and cannot hire faculty from the seven affected countries, which they have done in the past.”

Citing the new court precedent, the judges argued that schools can assert the rights of their students. “The interests of the states’ universities here are aligned with the students. The students’ educational success is ‘inextricably bound up’ in the universities’ capacity to teach them,” the ruling says. “And the universities’ reputations depend on the success of their professors’ research.”

Of course, these concerns were not limited to public universities in the states of Washington and Minnesota. Indeed, as reported here, business schools around the nation were quick to decry the executive order on precisely those grounds. In the days immediately following Trump’s January 27 executive order, deans from Harvard Business School, UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, NYU Stern School of Business and Columbia Business School, among others, spoke out strongly in opposition to the immigration ban while pledging to support their own affected students.

Global Business Education Is Best Antidote to Economic Nationalism, Say Business School Deans

Earlier this week, the Global Network for Advanced Management, a group of 29 international business schools committed to advancing innovation through global exchange, issued a statement in opposition to the current rise of populism, economic nationalism and anti-globalization rhetoric, noting that the global economy is more interconnected than ever before, making global exchange and engagement more important than ever.

Excerpt from the Global Network letter:

“As deans of Global Network member schools, we recognize that the fundamental drivers of global business are not changing. Technology will continue to advance and disrupt markets and societies, and the transfer of innovations and expertise across borders will continue. We believe that countries that retrench will harm themselves and their citizens. Therefore, we redouble our commitment to collaborative learning across countries and cultures, and to gain and leverage the insights of the best and brightest throughout the world. In this way, we continue to improve educational outcomes and professional development of our students, deliver innovations that benefit business and society, and contribute to a better world.”

This letter carried the signatures of deans from Haas, HEC Paris, INSEAD, Oxford’s Saïd Business School and Yale School of Management, among many others.

In the wake of the executive order, Haas Dean Richard Lyons received a letter signed by more than 1,000 Haas MBA students requesting that he reach out to deans of other business schools to speak out jointly against the executive order. He responded early last week to the Haas community that he had done just that.

Heightened Anxiety Persists

Despite yesterday’s ruling, business schools have encouraged their international students to exercise caution with regard to planned travel outside of the United States. “The temporary restraining order, which halted the enforcement of certain provisions of President Trump’s executive order banning foreign nationals from seven countries from entering the U.S., remains in effect after a decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals,” read a notice posted today on the Harvard International Office (HIO) website. “Despite this ruling, the HIO continues to advise foreign nationals from the seven restricted countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) to exercise caution and discuss any travel plans with their HIO Advisor when considering travel outside the United States.”

This is because future court rulings could reinstate the ban, in which case foreign nationals from those countries most likely would not be admitted or readmitted to the country.

Next Year’s International Enrollment at U.S. Business Schools in Question

It remains to be seen what type of impact this uncertainty may have on international enrollment at U.S. business school’s next year. As of this writing, most business schools we reached reported that, thus far, international application volume had not been impacted.

“International application volume in Round 2 was identical to last year,” says Haas Assistant Dean of the full-time MBA Program and Admissions Peter Johnson. “Since our Round 2 deadline was in early January, it was after the election and before the recent executive order. If there is any direct impact from these events, it will likely be seen in the enrollment patterns of admitted international students, in our program and in other MBA programs across the country.”

Concern about the current administration’s policies and their impact on international students has been widespread. “The uncertainty and anxiety surrounding changes in visa and immigration regulations is affecting all international students, not only those from the countries included in the recent executive order,” says Johnson. “We have had questions ranging from ‘Will this impact my chances of admission?’ to ‘Will I be able to do an internship in the U.S.?’”

Johnson confirmed that Haas has no plans to alter its admissions process and will continue to offer spaces in its class to top candidates regardless of their country of origin. “We are committed to maintaining a diverse and inclusive environment, and international students and faculty are an important part of our community and the educational experience of all students,” he pledged.

HBS Managing Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Chad Losee made a similar pledge in a post to his Director’s Blog earlier this week. In it, he reaffirmed the school’s commitment to assembling a diverse class of leaders who will make a difference in the world, wherever they come from. “The recent U.S. executive order restricting travel to America for citizens from certain countries does not change this, nor are we changing our admissions policy or practices as a result,” he wrote.

This article has been edited and republished with permissions from Clear Admit.

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