With new regulations put in place by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding international students, some universities are saying they’ll change their Fall 2020 schedules to keep them from having to leave the country.
Earlier this week, ICE announced that if colleges are only offering online classes, then international students must leave the United States or transfer to another school that will hold in-person classes.
The University of North Florida issued a statement to WJCT News, stating “the Fall 2020 course schedule at UNF is being modified to help ensure a safe educational environment for our campus community by providing course offerings that adhere to social distancing guidelines and will include courses that are face-to-face, fully remote and others that incorporate both in-person and remote learning resources. Our international center is reviewing the new regulations for F-1 students and will work with the University's international students in providing guidance and available options.”
UNF has around 380 international students on campus per year, according to the university.
University of Florida Provost Joe Glover issued a statement on Twitter regarding the new regulations.
The University of Florida has been reviewing our revised Fall 2020 semester schedule in light of recent guidance from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program office (SEVP) regarding online courses and international students...
— FLORIDA (@UF) July 8, 2020
“UF values all of our students and is focused on ensuring that everyone makes appropriate academic progress in the year ahead despite COVID-19 and other challenges,” the statement read.
In a later email sent out to students and staff, Glover said UF is opening up schedule adjustment to all students on July 10 to address concerns.
UF enrolls 6,000 international students every academic year, according to its website.
After learning of the changes from ICE, Kyla McMullen, an assistant computer science professor at UF, tweeted that she would offer an independent studies course that would keep international students from having to leave the country.
“One of my PhD students is a semester away from getting his PhD, and this would have sent [him] back home,” McMullen said. “He’s been working on a PhD, you know, for a very long time, so this isn't like a trivial matter. You know, this is something that I just felt like a punch to the gut.”
McMullen said she got the idea to offer the course after seeing another professor from the University of Texas - El Paso offering the same thing.
“International students comprise a big portion and contribute a lot to our campus. They're in research labs, or just even in class, or even knowing international students brings such a richness of culture and a diversity of experiences to the campus body. I couldn't imagine us without international students,” McMullen said.
WJCT News reached out for comment from Jacksonville University, but didn’t hear back by the time of publishing this story.
The regulations come as President Donald Trump has pressured schools across the nation to open back up for the fall semester despite COVID-19 concerns, saying current CDC guidelines for reopening are “very tough and expensive.”
Trump also threatened to cut funding for schools that choose not to reopen in the fall.
Sky Lebron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.