Members of the OSU community,
Oregon State University is closely tracking guidance issued Monday, July 6, 2020, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to modify federal policies that since spring have allowed international students to retain their immigration status while taking online courses.
These policies were enacted in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic when OSU – and many U.S. universities and colleges – transitioned from in-person to remote instruction. In response, many international students were able to take courses online while in the U.S. or abroad while retaining their immigration status. Prior to March, international students could only take one course or 3 credit hours online per term.
The July 6 guidance would require international students to leave the U.S. if the university or college they attend shifts to fully remote delivery of instruction meaning that they could be forced to travel home amid this global pandemic.
OSU is currently planning to offer instruction in fall through a combination of in-person, remote (synchronous face-to-face) and online delivery. Under this model, we initially understand that the ICE guidance would generally not apply to OSU’s international students.
While OSU has fully reviewed the guidance, there is remaining uncertainty on its details. We will continue to seek further clarity in order to consider the range of options and potential negative impacts of this very disturbing policy on our international students while we continue to develop OSU’s fall resumption plans.
In this time of uncertainty, the university is engaging with our international students and their families to provide information and support. In a precautionary response, OSU’s Office of International Services is highly recommending that international students take some courses planned to include in-person instruction. For more information about OSU’s international programs and student services, please contact the Office of International Services using this website.
The university will continue to assess the ICE guidance and any forthcoming U.S. Department of Homeland Security regulations to determine and mitigate impacts on our international students and the OSU community. Further, we will work with Oregon’s congressional leaders to urge that the federal government continue to allow needed flexibility for those students attending a university that will offer a mixture of onsite, remote and online courses, such as OSU, during this national emergency. We also are supportive and will track a lawsuit filed this morning by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology requesting an injunction against this new policy going into effect in the fall.
In doing so, we will continue to communicate the university’s unwavering support for our nearly 3,500 international students who represent 11% of OSU’s enrollment and are an essential part of our undergraduate and graduate student community. In the classroom, in research and in OSU’s Extension and outreach programs, international students are vital contributors to the university’s mission as a 21st century global land grant university. International students also contribute significantly to the diversity and culture of Oregon, and our state and national economy – economies that are dependent on international exports, imports and progressive educational exchange.
As OSU plans for a return to some on-site instruction, research and other activities, remote learning will remain an important and public health-minded option for our students. This option should be available to all students, whether they are Oregonians, students from other states or international students. As a former international graduate student myself, I assure you that OSU’s commitment remains steadfast to provide all students access to a high-quality and affordable higher education that prioritizes educational success, public health and wellness.
In the meantime, we will continue to assess and mitigate the impacts of this ICE guidance, offer services to our international student community and provide regular updates.
F. King Alexander