Washington, DC – Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) President Peter McPherson today released the following statement regarding new policies from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding international students and remote learning.
“The administration’s new policies for international students studying in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic are incredibly unfair, harmful, and unworkable. We are in unchartered and unprecedented times. Rather than extending appropriate flexibility, the federal government is imposing rigid, impractical rules about how instruction can be delivered to international students. Blocking and possibly expelling international students in the middle of their studies serves no one’s interests and would set back the United States’ ability to attract the world’s brightest minds to study here.
“Our nation’s universities need maximum flexibility as they continue to work tirelessly to develop plans and contingencies that will make their campuses as safe as possible for students, faculty, and staff. They were given that flexibility for international students when the pandemic forced classes online this spring and they continue to need it now with such great uncertainty ahead.
“Public research universities are doing everything they can to provide an education in the most effective and safe way possible. Schools must plan for an array of contingencies since no one can predict what comes next. The states that are COVID-19 hotspots now are not the same states that were hotspots two months ago. No one knows what August, September, October, and November will look like. The situation is very fluid. Schools may need to limit class sizes or shift some courses online to allow for social distancing. They may also need to shift fully online if the pandemic worsens in their area. Many schools are already planning to shift classes solely online after Thanksgiving to limit the spread of the virus. Schools need to be nimble as they adjust to such great unknowns. Yet the only thing certain under the administration’s new rules is that international students will needlessly be placed in limbo in the midst of a pandemic and possibly forced to go home mid-semester.
“We urge the administration to adjust course and once again provide international students with the maximum flexibility they need to study this year at our nation’s universities. And we ask Congress to step in and take action that would protect international students at a time when they need help. Now is the time to show those from around the world that the United States welcomes and supports those who want to study and learn at our universities.”