European universities fear US executive order may have damaging impact on international flow of knowledge

Travel ban may disrupt universities’ ability to send staff and students abroad


The European University Association (EUA) has expressed concern at US President Donald Trump’s executive order passed last Friday. The order, entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” has barred citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya – from entering the United States for 90 days.

The EUA have said this order may have a disruptive effect on universities concerning the passage of students, staff and researchers between countries. EUA General Secretary, Lesley Wilson, said such an act was “playing politics with the world’s knowledge pool and with academics’ and students’ lives”.

Wilson said that securing the ban would not only be “ethically wrong” but also “a major obstacle to the vital flow of global talent”. She continued: “Universities are already seeing the consequences for their staff and students, but this is and will be extremely problematic in many sectors.”

The travel ban has already affected international flow regarding partnerships, academic conferences, research field visits and international study programmes. The EUA has called on President Trump to reform or withdraw this order to allow the continued international flow of talent and knowledge, and for the new US regime to acknowledge the importance of international mobility for the good of society as a whole.