US Dreams Of Students On A Crash Course

Mail Today|July 12, 2020

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US Dreams Of Students On A Crash Course
Students from US colleges going online now brace for a trip back home, while those in India with successful admission also stare at a bleak future
Gulam Jeelani and Chayyanika Nigam
There were indications last month that India may consider resuming international flights, at least on select routes and in a phased manner, once the coronavirus situation gets better.

Pratyasha Acharya had a sigh of relief and began planning a US trip to restart studies at Harvard. But a news flash last week drove her to despair.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said on July 6 that those who are in America on F-1 student visa or M-1 visa for vocational education will have to come back home if their courses have gone online due to the pandemic for the fall 2020 semester starting next month.

The 28-year-old Delhi University graduate had moved to the US in August 2019 to study at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health where the course was to end in December this year.

In March, however, when Covid-19 became a global pandemic, Pratyasha decided to return to Delhi to be with her family, thinking she would head back to the US for the Fall semester.

“My original plan was to do a bit more research on healthcare financing and I wanted to return to the US on August 15 to interact with more professors for career guidance,” said Pratyasha who is among tens of thousands of Indian students in the US left in the lurch.

“We have paid tuition fees for the course. We just won't be able to get the same in-person experience and high-quality discussions in class, along with interactions with my fellow friends from around the globe now,” she added.

To stay in the US, foreign students must transfer to another school with in-person instruction, according to the new rules.

Institutions such as Harvard and Princeton have already announced mostly online learning. Now, it is up to the management to decide whether they would allow in-person courses, even if limited, to help international students stay in the country.

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July 12, 2020