(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) For so many students heading off or back to college this fall, the future looks a bit uncertain, especially for international students.
“There were new regulations that came out this week that will affect international students at colleges and universities in the United States,” Missouri Western Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Dr. Sarah Cravens said.
Those new regulations from the department of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement say international students would have to leave the country if their school switches to online learning this upcoming semester.
At Missouri Western, the international community said their main concern was quality of education.
“They wanted to know will we be able to continue with schoolwork, if it is still on campus will we be able to come back?” Missouri Western international student Ethan Bennie said.
The university is planning to go hybrid this upcoming year, meaning there will be some element of in person instruction and thus international students already here would be able to stay.
However, instructors say there's uncertainty for those still trying to get to Missouri Western from another country.
“The question mark is for those students who are outside the United States, whether they will be able to get into the United States to take those classes,” Cravens said. “They are not at the moment able to easily get visas because embassies are closed.”
Even those who are here say they would likely face challenges keeping up with schoolwork in the event plans change and they'd have to leave.
“If everything was to go online, we would have to make arrangements to go home and like I said, internet access is hard to come by so we would have to do a lot more effort to try to abide by the schoolwork and keep up with everything,” Bennie said.
Despite the uncertainty, international students at Western say they're still looking forward to the upcoming year.
They say it's a whole new world for everyone and we'll all have to adjust.
“I’m optimistic,” Bennie said. “I feel like they are doing their best, we just need to do our best as well, just everyone work together, this is new for everyone.”
Administrative staff say they will be in constant contact with students as the nation navigates the pandemic.