The pandemic the coronavirus has caused is forcing schools across the world to close, but what many don’t realize is the impact these closures have on international students.
According to the Harvard Crimson, Harvard students were given a five day time period to move out of their dorms. Many students claimed that there were many unanswered questions specifically regarding international students. Worries including how visa permission is going to be handled, whether they count as full-time students while schools are closed, and if their summer internships are still going to go on (Burstein, Caldera, Crimson Staff Writers).
In a U.S.News article, Elton Lin, founder and CEO of ILUMIN Education, a college admissions consulting firm in California, said, “There are concerns about being locked in and not being able to return home, or vice versa, being locked in at home and not being able to return to school. For others, there are concerns regarding research funding being cut off or racial tension among students.”
Another issue that arose was the limited time that students were given to pack up their stuff and go back to their home country or a place where they can safely live. Harvard students were given a five-day notice to completely evacuate their dorms. This included students’ belongings that they would possibly need the rest of the school year.
Most schools are moving to online classes and some are doing live lectures. This could cause a problem for international students dealing with different time zones.
“Time changes are a bigger deal than a lot of people think,” said Judith Ackers, an immigrant from Europe who went to Delft University in the Netherlands. “The time change in Europe is about 9 hours so imagine having a 2 p.m. lecture and having to be awake at 11:00 at night.”
An additional complication is that the country many of these students will be returning to might be more infected with the virus than the United States. For example, if a student is returning to Italy, they could be at a much larger risk of getting the virus than if they were to stay where they are.
I know that the United States is at a large risk of the virus spreading even more, but if I got kicked out of college and was forced to go to a more infected area, I would be pretty upset.” said Philip de Waart, a college student.
Schools and international offices are working hard to come up with solutions for international students despite the negative response they have been receiving.