From Darkness, through Fire, to Light
Posted on 17th September 2017
As the realities of the Trump Phenomenon and Brexit settle in for international educators, it's prudent to consider three distinct phases of such phenomenon: From darkness, through fire, to light. Many colleagues would agree: We're enduring the heat of the flames at the moment.
But another interpretation of those three stages spins a more positive narrative, from Unknown Unknowns to Known Unknowns to Known Knowns. (We prefer to refer to Steven Poole's interpretation of this journey of scientific discovery in his best-seller, Re-Think, rather than former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's interpretation.)
International educators have reached the phase where we're emerging from total darkness around current political scenarios to some clarity around what we don't know -- which is in fact, real progress.
We know that the industry has been -- and will continue to be -- disrupted by current challenges. We know we need to lead the critical charge against national isolationism, from a philosophical (defensive) perspective.
But there also needs to be a complementary charge on offense to address the known unknowns -- where leading international educators step up / lean in to drive a productive conversation with solutions that include deeper due diligence, more robust funds verification, and even establishing escrow accounts in some higher-risk jurisdictions.
Let's address those known unknowns by doing what we do best as international educators: Advance the notion of embracing the other. In the U.S. case, the "other" happens to be a presidential administration with ideas very foreign to our own. The United Kingdom voted to turn inward -- which defies the very heart of "international education."
But let's resist the temptation to actively dismiss these valuable learning / teaching opportunities.
We can find common ground across the political spectrum, in attracting the most academically-qualified and the most financially-qualified students and scholars, that will advance the U.S. and U.K. economies, while minimizing the risk of those student visa holders burdening our domestic resources.
INTCAS can help, to ultimately improve the efficiency and integrity of the international admissions process. We exist to advance global student mobility for qualified applicants in a safe, compliant and cost-effective way.
In response to any extreme vetting policies or practices, we propose pro-active, practical and proven solutions to improve the efficiency and integrity of associated processes. Specifically, the international education industry can apply robust technologies currently used within global financial services:
1. "Know your Customer" guidelines, where authorities authenticate the applicant's identity throughout the process
2. "Anti-Money Laundering" guidelines, where authorities conduct deeper Due Diligence on applicants and financial sponsors
3. "Funds Verification," to encourage bona fide students to substantiate their financial capacity over time
4. "Escrow Accounts," to minimize the risk of international students becoming a burden on domestic resources
"Political pendulum swings can be painful but powerful pushes to new perspectives," noted Cheryl DarrupBoychuck, INTCAS US Director of Institutional Relations. "We've done the research, and have learned valuable lessons from the United Kingdom's tighter visa policies over the past few years. Our intelligent and forward-thinking ecosystem considers the entire journey of qualified international students over time -- to ultimately boost trust and transparency for all stakeholders."