PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Harvard University and MIT are suing to stop the Trump administration from forcing international students to leave the country if all of their classes are held online this fall.
Administrators at institutions in the Delaware Valley are hopeful for some congressional intervention to reverse this new Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy. But in the meantime, they are helping students rearrange their class schedules so that they qualify to stay in the United States.
Temple University senior Hanna Pronina, from Ukraine, received stunning news Monday that could turn her future upside down.
“I definitely feel attacked, yes,” she said. “It was a sudden bomb, shock.”
The directive from ICE released Monday warned international students that they cannot stay in or return to the U.S. if their college or university is only offering online classes in the fall.
“I was very stressed, I went ahead and checked in my student system portal and all of the classes actually showed to be online and that’s when I realized I may be in trouble,” she said.
Pronina says she spent five hours Tuesday switching her online classes to in-person ones, but now she may not graduate on time. As a pre-med biology major, not all of the classes she needs to graduate are being offered in person.
“Now I think that there actually might be a possibility, a high possibility, that I will need to take a fifth year,” she said.
Over at Rutgers-Camden, the same anxiety was felt from students and administrators alike, who are grappling with the abrupt policy change that could affect 200 students at the Camden campus and 7,500 across the Rutgers system.
“Obviously, our students are concerned and for good reason,” said Michael Sepanic, Associate Chancellor for External Relations at Rutgers-Camden. “We intend to work with them to help them get the classes that they need so that they can complete their studies at Rutgers, in the manner that works best for them.”
In order to continue their education in the U.S., international students must attend institutions that are offering at least some in-person instruction and have their school certify that they are not taking all online courses. Otherwise, students must transfer or return home.
This policy could have major economic ramifications as well. In 2018, international students contributed an estimated $45 billion to the U.S. economy, according to the Institute of International Education.