JONESBORO, Ark- While Arkansas State is preparing for an in-person fall semester, international students are feeling increased anxiety because if the university were to go fully online, they would have to return to their home countries.
“For right now, we are scheduled to be 100% on campus in person so, it doesn’t impact our international students,” says Thilla Sivakumaran Vice Chancellor for Global Engagement and Outreach. “We sent an email out to them last night just addressing them and calming their anxieties.”
ICE made the announcement yesterday afternoon saying international students on a student visa would have to return home if their institution were to go fully online.
Universities with hybrid classes would allow students to stay in the country.
Sivakumaran says he thinks this will have institutions who already declared to go online for the fall semester to either re-think that decision or offer a hybrid program.
He says this has caused anxiety for some.
“If we were to go online, they would have to either go back to their countries or transfer to another institution, and during the pandemic that’s a big deal for anybody,” says Sivakumaran. “In some places the airports aren’t opened in their home countries, they have travel restrictions in their home countries.”
Sivakumaran says if the university did have to fully online, they would work with their international students.
He also mentions the global and financial impact international students have on a university.
“If we do have to go online which we’re hoping we’re not to do a hybrid program for international students or work something out for them,” says Sivakumaran. “It gives our students the opportunity to interact with somebody from a different culture, different country, and hopefully make them a better global citizen. That’s over 600 international students that won’t be enrolled and, that impacts us financially."
Sivakumaran says he as well as the university are monitoring the situation daily and have been for months.
He says while they have these backup options, they hope the university will be fully in person and they won’t have to use them.