Though not many are yet admitting it, many of America’s colleges and universities will not be open in the traditional way this fall, due to the ongoing Wuhan virus outbreak from China. Instead, they will continue, as they have most of this year, to provide online education only, classes that can be taken from anywhere in the world.
That is set to make a great deal of difference to many of the more than one million foreign students accustomed to living and studying here, including the 369,548 from China.
On Monday, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that foreign students taking online classes only will not receive F-1 visas to live and study in the United States. Moreover, lacking the F-1s, those foreign students will not be able to leverage the Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) programs to acquire work permits as well. Those programs traditionally have allowed up to half a million non-immigrant “students” to compete with Americans for jobs.
Immigration restrictionists applauded the announcement, NumbersUSA policy director Rosemary Jenks saying, “Foreigners have never been able to get a visa for online courses — never, ever. Why would we give out visas to do online studies?”
The colleges and universities, which have a huge financial interest in packing their student rolls with as many foreigners as possible, most of whom pay full freight, are having a collective hissy fit. Harvard, which has 5000 foreign students and had already announced that it would provide online instruction only, filed a lawsuit to stop the new guidelines and was joined by MIT, which has 4000 foreign students. The American Council on Education, which represents university presidents, called the guidelines “horrifying.” Some professors at various schools have announced they will provide in-person instruction only to international students as a way of getting around the guidelines.
The Wuhan virus has caused enormous disruption to our lives and our economy, but it will not be for nothing if it forces a re-balancing of our higher-education focus. We cannot afford to continue bringing in wholesale numbers of foreign students, educate them, and then turn them loose in the job market to scarf up jobs while Americans are out of work.
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