The ‘Muslim Ban’ Will Depreciate the Value of American Schools

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Between 1950 and 2009, internationally-mobile students increased from 107,000 to 3.4 million annually[1]. That’s almost 3.5 million students making a decision each year to leave their home to study, and more of them choose the U.S. than any other destination. When I was a college counselor at an American school in the Middle East, only about 1/3 of our students were American, but over 90% of our graduates went on to tertiary studies in the U.S.

The so-called ‘Muslim Ban’, recently signed by U.S. President Trump, which blocks immigrants from six predominantly Muslim countries, will likely impact study abroad applications. As an American, I value the contributions of foreign students to my country. As an international school educator, I wonder about how this ban will effect the appeal of American college prep schools abroad.

Following the election of Donald Trump in 2016, hate crimes against Muslims spiked in the United States. Anti-Muslim groups have also drastically increased. It has been posited that, “The decision to study overseas is driven primarily by cultural values rather than rational choice”[2]. If this is so, perceived messages of intolerance toward Muslim people will influence students’ decisions about where to invest the time and financial resources it takes to complete a degree. I anticipate that we will see a decrease in international Muslim students on U.S. campuses in the coming years.

Image Credit: Southern Poverty Law Center

With fewer foreign students planning on the U.S. for college, I suspect that families will rethink their children’s attendance at international college prep schools. The Executive Director for the Association of International Educators recently gave an interview on National Public Radio, explaining their collaboration with colleges and universities in the U.S. to gain insight on how the immigration ban is playing out in our admissions offices. I fear the worst: numbers of foreign students to the U.S. will drop and, along with that, American college prep schools in Muslim majority countries will see declining enrollment.

We need international students in the United States, and we need American schools abroad. Promoting cross-cultural contact can reduce negative stereotypes about ‘the other’. This is not romantic aspiration; research shows that when white Americans are exposed to positive information about Arab Muslims, their implicit negative bias declines[3]. Having enjoyed four years of gracious hospitality in the Middle East, I am saddened to think that the students I knew may now be feeling unwelcome in my home country.

How has the so-called ‘Muslim Ban’ impacted student’s college plans at your school?

[1] UNESCO Institute for Statistics. (2011). Global Education Digest 2011: Comparing Education Statistics Across the World. Montreal: UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

[2] Shields, R. (2013). Globalization and international student mobility: A network analysis. Comparative Education Review, 57(4), 609-636.

[3] Park, J., Felix, K., & Lee, G. (2007). Implicit Attitudes Toward Arab-Muslims and the Moderating Effects of Social Information. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 29(1), 35-45.

About Emily Meadows

Emily Meadows is an alumni of international schools and has worked as a professional educator and counselor across the world, serving children and families in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. She holds master’s degrees in the fields of Counseling and Sexual Health, and is a PhD candidate researching inclusive policy and practice for LGBTQ+ students. Emily is a consultant on gender and sexual diversity and inclusion in international schools: www.emilymeadows.org
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4 Responses to The ‘Muslim Ban’ Will Depreciate the Value of American Schools

  1. Adel says:

    What Muslim ban are you referring to? When you say such irresponsible propaganda, yes, that is exactly what it is, propaganda, you diminish the work of those in the fields that protect America’s security and you drive a rhetoric of fear, anger, and racism.
    Neither of the President’s executive orders ban Muslims. Please read them! Furthermore, it is a travel ban of 90 days, not an indefinite ban, and really doesn’t ban those with previously issued valid visas. It only bans issuing new visas from those several terror-wracked countries. For TIE to publish propaganda indicates how unprofessional and anti-American this has become. Calls for tolerance and acceptance ought first begin at home, in your own heart.

    • Emily Meadows says:

      Dear Reader,

      My apologies for this delayed response.

      To answer your question, I was referring to the travel ban signed by President Trump (a link to this article about it is embedded in the blog post). I used quotes around the words ‘Muslim Ban’ in the title, and referred to it as the ‘so-called Muslim Ban’ within the body because, as you say, it does not explicitly ban all Muslims. However, as you know, since my post was published, the ban was successfully blocked because it was found to violate the constitutional prohibition against religious discrimination.

      To clarify, the opinions expressed in the post are mine alone, and do not represent those of TIE.

      Sincerely,

      Emily

  2. td says:

    In no way does the ban on Muslims depreciate American schools, and your comments on the “implicit negative bias” of “white Americans” towards “Arab Muslims” are blatantly RACIST.

    I suggest you move to one of the wonderful, Arab Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia, and see how an American woman is treated, before you condemn Americans–especially The President–for wanting to keep their influence out of OUR country. The reason why many Americans do not like Muslims is because they do not represent a “religion of peace,” and are trying to spread their throwback religion throughout the world. Of course, you may be Muslim–you’re certainly doing their work for them–and you may be happy wearing a hajib and having second-class status…or none at all.

    If another Muslim never enters the United States of America, I’d be glad.

    • Emily Meadows says:

      Dear Reader,

      My apologies for this delayed response.

      I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting Saudi Arabia, but lived in Kuwait for four wonderful years, and traveled extensively in the Middle East during that time. I left the region with exceptionally fond memories, and a fortified appreciation for the culture.

      Regarding your comment about the implicit negative bias of white Americans toward Arab Muslims, I was writing in reference to a peer-reviewed study on the subject (cited in the blog post). Of course not all white Americans hold negative bias toward Arab Muslims.

      The government of Saudi Arabia has been accused of human rights violations, which I certainly do not excuse. However, to blanket all Saudis or all Muslims with this accusation would be a mistake. Muslim students, including Saudis, are valuable members of American schools around the world, and it saddens me to think that their numbers may diminish in the coming years.

      Regards,

      Emily

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