Many of the 1,600 international students on West Virginia University’s main campus in Morgantown will be able to continue their studies online because the Trump administration dropped its requirement that they leave the United States if they are not enrolled in at least one in-person class when the fall semester starts.
WVU’s fall semester begins Aug. 19. Classes will be delivered in a combination of face-to-face and online lectures.
“We’re elated to see these new rules rescinded, allowing international students the opportunities they need to continue their studies,” said Amber Brugnoli, associate vice president for WVU’s Office of Global Affairs.
On July 6, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said international students needed to take at least one in-person class to remain in the country. That sparked an outcry from colleges and universities across the country – many of whom closed campuses and switched to online learning when COVID-19 became prevalent in March – including lawsuits protesting the edict.
There are currently travel bans in place for non-citizens entering the United States from China, Iran, the Schengen area of Europe, which includes 26 countries, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Brazil.
“Many students remain in Morgantown from their spring studies,” said Hank Oliver, director of Global Advancement for WVU’s Global Affairs. “Some students chose to return home, and may face challenges returning to the United States due to travel bans. Many other countries have their own travel restrictions for their citizens as well. This also doesn’t account for logistical challenges due to limited flights, or flight cancelations. That being side, we do expect a large showing of international students on campus.”
“International students make tremendous sacrifices and huge leaps to move to another country for their education and they want the quintessential American educational experience,” Oliver said.
The reversal is good news for the country as a whole as well. According to an article by the Brookings Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank, international student in the United States contributed $41 billion to the economy through tuition, housing, dining and health services in 2018.
“WVU’s hybrid delivery model for the upcoming fall semester provides the needed flexibility for all students to build the schedule that best suits them, and this will allow international students to have that same opportunity,” Brugnoli said.