Thursday, March 26, 2009

World to U.S. B-Schools: Thanks, but No Thanks

A Businessweek article discusses how an increasing number of prospective international students are choosing not to come to the US. Lack of visas and a generally hostile climate towards skilled foreign workers is one push factor. Other factors include the economy and the inability to find financing.

The Senate attempted to prohibit banks getting significant financial assistance from the US government from hiring foreign workers at all. The provision was watered down; the banks in question (Citi, Bank of America, AIG, Fannie and Freddie) must go through some additional hoops to hire foreigners. The procedures aren't especially onerous (any more so than the regular H-1B process). However, it's clear that the US government, particularly some Democrats, is adopting a hostile attitude towards skilled foreign workers.

In the long run, this makes no sense. Regardless of their position on general immigration (primarily by less skilled workers), labor economists generally agree that admitting skilled foreign workers is a boon to the economy. Admitting skilled workers through school is an especially attractive route; the workers are trained in local laws and customs, and they've already spent significant money in the local economy. This can be better than admitting them de novo from their home countries.

As the Businessweek article indicates, an increasing number of prospective students may be going to other business schools, like Insead. This is, frankly a good thing. A unipolar world is not good for the US or for anyone else. Of course, it would be nice for the US to ditch the fucking xenophobia and reduce the barriers to admitting skilled workers, as well as executing general immigration reform.

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