United states: concern for the thousands of foreign students, between virus and expulsion

États-Unis: inquiétude pour des milliers d’étudiants étrangers, entre virus et expulsion

New York | there are growing concerns among thousands of foreign students in the United States, now under the threat of a departure forced by the administration to Trump or forced to return on their campus while the pandemic was in full swing.

They are more than 40 000 foreign students in public universities in California and nearly 5,000 at Harvard, of the institutions that planned to offer only teaching online this fall.

According to a decision announced on Monday by the police of the u.s. immigration (ICE) – and challenged in court by Harvard and MIT – they no longer have the right to reside on the territory of the united states, the collateral victims of a coup de force Donald Trump to reopen all schools and universities in the country in spite of the pandemic.

“I could be affected if they do not offer any classes in person”, is concerned Taimoor Ahmed, 25 years old, student of pakistan at the state university of Cal State Los Angeles. “I’m worried, it might change my future and my projects.”

Another, registered in a masters degree from a large university in texas, explains that he thought to pursue the course online this autumn, by way of precaution in the face of the pandemic, after having already taken the last semester of distance.

But this indian student of 25 years old is now forced to return physically to the university, under penalty of losing his visa. “The cost of the medical treatment (in case of hospitalization related to the coronavirus) is much higher than in my country”, he said, on condition of anonymity. “So, I’m afraid.”

“I talk to a lot of people who were really scared,” he continued in a voice sober. “We are alone in a foreign country. I have no one to take care of me” in case of illness.

Concern also the home of a student of indian master of electronics in a large university of Arizona, State become a hotbed of the epidemic.

She knows that she will have to go back on campus to finish his research work and ensure its function of tuteure with younger students, even if it “seems very difficult to control the spread of the virus on a campus as populated”.

Today, the majority of american universities (84% according to the website Chronicle of Higher Education) are moving towards a form in-person or hybrid, blending virtual courses and teaching on the campus, which would allow their foreign students to escape the expulsion whose threat the new measure of the government Trump.

Some, such as the university of Southern California (USC) who was a party to do almost everything online, work with a new formula to offer more courses in person.


But many fear a resurgence of the pandemic in the autumn, which would oblige the institutions to switch completely online, and would push the foreign students at the outset.

“They can’t control the virus. It can go wrong,” says the future engineer, indian, 25 years, under the guise of anonymity. “It seems really unfair that foreign students suffer from the worsening of the pandemic so that they are not there for nothing.”

Pending completion of its work and its defence in November, she will live “in a state of going concern”. “I’ve invested three years of my life and worked hard to earn your degree. If my visa was revoked, that would be terrible.”

After having doubled in the past 15 years, the number of foreign students in the United States has been dragging for 2015, to about 1.09 million in 2019, according to the Institute of international Education (IEE).

The prohibitive prices of most major american institutions, the rise of universities competing, particularly in Europe and the migration policy of Donald Trump have made the United States less attractive.

The recent decisions “threaten to weaken one of the greatest strengths of the United States, namely, its educational system, the best in the world” for higher education, warns Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, of the american Council on immigration (AIC).

Up here, the future engineer indian from Arizona was staying in the United States for a phd, or even more. But today, she hesitates, “because of the way the u.s. government treats immigrants and people under temporary visa”.

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