UW international students get message of support after policy announced that could force them home

UW international students get message of support after policy announced that could force them home
(KIRO 7 News)

SEATTLE — International college students at the University of Washington received a message of support Thursday from Academic and Student Affairs, Global Affairs and Student Life after an announcement made by the Department of Homeland Security could have local college students leave the country if their classes moved online this fall.

The move would end a waiver enacted when the pandemic began.

Under the updated rules, international students must take at least some of their classes in person.

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UW leaders stated they were “shocked and upset” about the proposed adjustments to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program. They also said they were doing everything in their power to support students in the situation and are working to try and change the proposal because it is not finalized.

The university also made students aware of some key points in its fight to support them:

“First, the UW is planning for a hybrid model of education for autumn quarter. It includes remote and in-person course offerings. At this moment, we are working on developing more options to expand in-person course offerings of academic value in order to meet the needs of our international students in light of this DHS administrative modification.

“Our hybrid education model is predicated on the UW’s Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma campuses being in Phase 3 of the COVID-19 recovery, in accordance with Washington’s Safe Start plan. It is very possible that King and Pierce counties may not be in Phase 3 by the start of autumn quarter. To prepare for that scenario, we are partnering with county and state agencies to pursue safe, in-person instruction options even if our campuses are not in Phase 3-designated localities. Rest assured, courses for those on F1 visas would be a priority.

“Lawsuits have been filed and will continue to be pursued to stop the implementation of this order. The UW is actively looking into how we can best participate for maximum impact. It is no understatement to say that literally the entire higher education sector and its supporters are upset about the DHS decision. We are in frequent conversation with each other, our professional networks, and our state and federal leadership on how we can best move forward to stop this decision.”

UW’s Seattle campus has 48,000 students, 8,000 of whom are international students. Like other out-of-state students, they pay full tuition.