Universities around the world have criticised the unveiling of a new travel ban by US President Trump, claiming it will have a negative impact on international students.
The ban, which prevents anyone from six Muslim-majority countries from being able to obtain a visa, has been described as a "long-term threat" to America's academic reputation and ability to attract bright students from around the world.
Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities, said the new executive order "poses a fundamental long-term threat to America’s global leadership in higher education, research, and innovation".
The travel ban is an updated version of the initial executive order issued by President Trump on January 27, which sparked scenes of chaos and protest at several major American airports. The initial ban was eventually blocked in court, as judges were left unconvinced by the government's failure to provide evidence which justified the ban's existence.
Although some of the language of the new travel ban has been softened, citizens from Somalia, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya and Yemen remain barred from entry to the US for 90 days. The ban also suspends America's refugee program for 120 days. The new ban is thought to affect approximately 15,000 current international students, 12,000 of whom are from Iran.
Coleman, whose organisation represents 62 leading US institutions, said: "Among other things, the new order will still limit entry of thousands of gifted students and faculty from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who wish to come to the United States to study, teach, and conduct cutting-edge research and scholarship.
"Perhaps most alarmingly, this order conveys the same damaging message to talented people from the six affected countries, as well as others: you are no longer welcome here. This message is especially clear in the absence of a statement by the president that America needs to remain the destination of choice for the world’s most talented students, scientists, engineers, and scholars."
European universities have also been moved to criticise the ban. A statement by the European University Association said: "EUA believes the new executive order continues to aim indiscriminately at large groups of people to the detriment of mobility and exchange. The Association is concerned about how it will impact international researchers, university faculty and students who wish to apply for visas and travel to the United States for partnerships, academic conferences, research field visits and international study programmes."
The travel ban, which is due to go into effect on March 16, is already being challenged by both the state of Washington and the state of Hawaii. A hearing is scheduled on the Hawaii case for March 15.
(Lead image: Masha George (Flickr))