Monday, July 13, 2020

Vanessa Miller, The Gazette

IOWA CITY — Although widespread confusion and unknowns persist across Iowa’s public universities for international students newly threatened with deportation if their courses end up entirely online — the institutions are promising support and collaboration in keeping those affected on campus.

“Because the University of Iowa has adopted a blended approach to instruction this fall — which combines both in-person and online instruction — the UI has flexibility in adapting to these circumstances,” UI International Programs Dean Russell Ganim said in a campus message this week about the new Student and Exchange Visitor Program guidance.

“As a result, the UI is committed to working with international students to find solutions to ensure that their fall programs of study are completed with minimum disruption,” Ganim said. “International Programs and academic units across the university will continue to offer all the services necessary to support our international students.”

Still, the UI — in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — recently announced plans to shift all courses online after Thanksgiving, which — under new guidance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — would force students studying here on F-1 and M-1 visas to either leave the country or transfer to a school with in-person options.

And Michael Bortscheller, UI associate director of international student and scholar services, warned of that previously unforeseen threat in a separate message to affected students this week.

“Once the University of Iowa moves exclusively to online classes after Thanksgiving break, it may be necessary for international students to leave the United States,” Bortscheller wrote. “We are seeking further guidance on this point.”