International students may not resume into US colleges as they may switch to online classes

International students may not resume into US colleges as they may switch to online classes

International students in the United States may not resume into US colleges as they may switch to online classes as the coronavirus cases increased. More than half of foreign students in the US come from Asia. In the 2018-2019 academic year, 370,000 students were from China, 202,000 from India, and 52,000 from South Korea.
International students in the United States may not resume into US colleges as they may switch to online classes as the coronavirus cases increased. More than half of foreign students in the US come from Asia. In the 2018-2019 academic year, 370,000 students were from China, 202,000 from India, and 52,000 from South Korea.

In two months, 19-year-old Tianyu Fang is due to start his first semester at one of the most prestigious schools in America: Stanford University in California. Now, the Chinese national isn't sure if he'll make it.

Fang is one of the million or so international students who could be made to leave the United States if their universities switch to online-only learning, under a rule announced by Washington on Monday. Those who don't leave voluntarily face deportation.

Some universities have announced they will deliver all courses online due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 2.9 million people and killed more than 130,000 in the US alone. Other universities are still planning to run classes on campus, but with the US outbreak still not under control, there's a risk that those institutions could go remote, too.

For Fang, who has studied in the US since middle school but returned to Beijing earlier this year, Monday's announcement exacerbates an already complicated situation. To get around the US ban on travelers who have been in China in the past two weeks, he planned to fly from China to Cambodia. After 14 days, he would hopefully fly to the US.
Now, things are even harder. Currently, Stanford plans to stagger which students are on campus each semester to maintain social distancing. First year students will be on campus in the fall and summer terms -- meaning Fang will be studying remotely in one semester and will have to leave the US for that period.
Even that will be challenging. There are few flights between the US and China, where international arrivals have to quarantine for two weeks. Now, Fang is weighing up whether he wants to pay about $60,000 a year to study remotely from China. If he does, he won't have all the unplanned interactions and conversations that usually come with a school experience.

For now, 29-year-old Chinese national Chen Na isn't affected by Monday's changes. At New York University (NYU), where Chen is halfway through a two-year master's degree, her courses will be a combination of online and offline when fall semester starts.But there's a chance that NYU could go back to online-only classes, as it did in March.

"I can't stop thinking about it," she said. "I just feel kind of powerless and vulnerable. I will try my best to stay here legally."

If courses go online-only, transferring to another university won't be an option -- few other schools offer the Interactive Telecommunications Program Chen is studying. Instead, she would have to try to go back to China, which would be expensive. When Chen first heard the rule change, she felt desensitized as there have been a number of other policies that make things more difficult for international students.
In May, for instance, New York Times and Reuters reported that the US was planning to cancel the visas of thousands of Chinese graduate students and researchers with ties to universities affiliated with the People's Liberation Army. In April, Republican Senator Tom Cotton suggested Chinese students at US universities shouldn't be allowed to study science and technology.

The Trump administration has also made a litany of changes to the US immigration system, citing the coronavirus pandemic, which have resulted in barring swaths of immigrants from coming to the country. "We don't have much power here, and then sometimes we become the sacrifice for all these political games," Chen said. "I'm really aware of my foreign status here, I know I'm a foreigner. I don't necessarily see an increasing hostility from other people, but I do feel like policy-wise, it's crushing us."