Colleges and universities across the United States have started scrambling this week to make sure that their reopening plans include enough in-person instruction to protect students from deportation.
(TNS) — Colleges and universities across the country are scrambling this week to make sure their reopening plans include enough in-person instruction to protect students from deportation.
New federal immigration guidelines issued Monday will prevent international students from getting visas this fall if they are enrolled in online-only courses.
The guidelines caused widespread concern among international students and their families and colleges where reopening plans include heavy use of online instruction due to the continued spread of the novel coronavirus.
Two major schools — Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — took legal action on Wednesday to try to keep their international students on campus.
In the Rockford area, leaders at Rockford University and Beloit College plan to incorporate enough in-person instruction into the schedules of their international students to meet the thresholds established by the new guidelines.
"We will work closely with our international students to ensure that when we start classes in the fall — and we will start with a combination of face-to-face and hybrid in-person and online classes — that their schedules are set up such that they will meet the requirements the government has for international students," Michael Quinn, interim vice president of enrollment management at Rockford University, said Wednesday.
Rockford University is home to about 100 international students each year.
"Our office of global affairs has been fielding phone calls and emails from international students ever since the announcement on Monday," Quinn said. "They're wanting to know what's going on. They're looking for accurate information. ... There's this growing feeling across the country that this really isn't equitable for international students."
Also on Wednesday, Beloit College President Scott Bierman sent a letter to faculty and students condemning the new guidelines and assuring international students that they have the college's support.
"In the midst of a global pandemic, we need every available option to ensure individual and community health," Bierman said in the letter. "The ICE ruling leaves us needlessly faced with decisions that compromise the health of our students and the quality of their education.
"We will support our international students through this moment in all the ways we can. This will include ensuring that the hybrid approach we take this fall allows for sufficient in-person classes to enable international students to comply with the new guidance."
The guidance states that international students would not be exempt even if an outbreak forces their schools to revert to online instruction during the fall term.
©2020 Rockford Register Star, Ill. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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