As if President Donald Trump's order temporarily barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries was not spooky enough, a leaked draft of an executive order that suggests cancelling the stay on period of 2 years for STEM graduates is putting students in two minds about signing up with an American university .
Indian students across portals and discussion groups are at the moment asking only one question: Is the US still an option to consider? If this continues, experts and counsellors are wondering if the US will command the number one position among higher education destinations with the decision lever resting in the hands of those against immigration.
“Darker days lie ahead,“ said a counsellor. “The American dream that gave every one an equal right to rise is slowly getting slayed, “she added.
Anirudha Kanodia, a commerce student of K C College, has an admit to study computer science at Purdue University .Anyone with a ticket to this blue-chip public university would worry about little else. But Kanodia is waiting for his admits from Canada.
“Everyone is anxious and in a state of flux. It is not about Hindus or Muslims. Students are wondering what will happen tomorrow,“ said Pratibha Jain, a counsellor who advises candidates wanting to study abroad.
Students heading to the US for higher studies currently get a year of OPT (Optional Practical Training). Those pursuing STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) courses would get an additional allowance of 24 months, essentially allowing them three chances (one each year) at the precious H-1B visa. But a leaked draft order says this extension would be revoked.
Counsellors said they were being flooded with panic calls from students and parents. They have been telling students to go ahead with their plans as there is still time to fly out. “I want to study and then work in a foreign country. The UK is no longer an option, looks like the US too is going down that path, “said a student from IIT-B who has received an admit from Yale.
“Students are unsure. They have applied and are going ahead with their plans, but are worried about the OPT extension. Some students have started looking at Canadian and Australian universities too. Many are unperturbed about going to the US, but there are also many who are anxious and monitoring all policy change decisions,“ said Sumeet Jain, co-founder of Yocket, an online platform catering to Indian students planning to study abroad.