Future of international students remains uncertain at colleges

Emily De Vito & WNYT Staff
Created: July 10, 2020 01:50 PM

A new federal mandate would force international students who are not taking any face-to-face classes at colleges or universities this fall to leave the country.

Many Capital Region schools are concerned about the impact this will have.


Jason Lane is the Dean of the School of Education at the University at Albany. He said this mandate by the federal government has international students considering no longer studying in America or changing their major to take in person classes.

He says a fall without these students would be a disadvantage to everyone.

Siena College is offering in-person instruction in the fall, so this will not impact them.

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement over new rules Lane says many are joining in on this.

UAlbany's President, Havidán Rodríguez, said:

"Our international students, many of whom have been forced to weather the pandemic far from home, have already endured so much and need our very strong support - now more than ever. These students do not need another roadblock as they prepare to resume their studies."

Skidmore and Union College released a joint statement with four other colleges saying:

"The Presidents of the member schools of the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium (Colgate University, Hamilton College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, St. Lawrence University, Skidmore College, and Union College) strongly object to recent actions by the federal government which restrict access and opportunities for international students and scholars, thereby limiting the educational experience for all students.

The changes to the federal Student and Exchange Visitor Program, which force institutions to offer in-person instruction or risk deportation of international students with F-1 and M-1 visas, are perplexing. Though our six institutions plan to offer a blend of face-to-face and remote courses in the fall, the unpredictable nature of the pandemic may force a return to fully remote instruction at a future point in order to protect the health and safety of our campuses and local communities. Such a decision would have grave consequences for our international students, whose education would be drastically disrupted through no fault of their own. We fail to see how this action is justifiable. The accommodations accorded to international students for the spring and summer should be continued at least through the fall term.

We also object to President Trump's Executive Order to suspend the H-1B visa program, which is critically important to our ability to hire faculty and postdoctoral scholars with unique skill sets that ensure we are preparing the next generation of American workers with the highest quality education possible. The impact of this Order reaches well beyond higher education; it will have a severe impact on many U.S. businesses and industries.

The reason we seek international scholars and skilled workers is because there are not enough qualified Americans to meet demand across the broad scope of higher education and many business sectors in the U.S. We strongly encourage the Trump Administration to rescind this Order to ensure that our colleges and universities and businesses and industries are able to attract the best talent from across the world to yield the discoveries and innovations that will fuel U.S. economic recovery and growth.

The presence of international students and scholars on our campuses helps to prepare all of our students to be global citizens – to live in increasingly diverse and multicultural communities and to pursue careers in a global marketplace. Federal actions that restrict this important aspect of a college education threaten our nation's status as a world leader."

UAlbany said while this is sorted out, they will continue to support their international students.

Siena College is offering in-person instruction in the fall, so this will not impact them.

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