North Texas universities doing what they can to accommodate foreign students after ICE ruling

A new lCE policy has thousands of foreign college students anxious about their futures in this country.

Schools like UT Dallas, with the 12th most international students in the country, are trying to reassure foreign students they’ll find a way for them to continue their studies.

Colleges and universities have already been scrambling to figure out the safest way to educate students this fall.

Now, they’re also trying to figure out how to make sure they don’t lose thousands of students, many of whom are midway through their studies, with others obtaining advanced degrees.

“We all paid for our tuition,” said Olivia Huang.

Huang is a third-year PhD student at UT Dallas.

Like thousands of international students, she worried if new government rules could jeopardize everything.

“I already spent like three years hard work on this whole program,” she added.

Monday, ICE announced foreign students cannot take online classes only, in an effort to get more universities to open their doors. 

So unlike many students who can choose if they're comfortable taking in-person classes or opt to study from home, foreign students have to attend some in-person classes.

If classes aren’t offered, they’d have to transfer or withdraw.

If they stay, some say it’s a risk getting the coronavirus or deportation.

“Let’s say what if some student gets infected when they have in-person class and the student health insurance is not able to cover all the associated medical expenses. I think that just makes the situation for international students worse,” Huang added.

“They are worried about their health and stuff. They are weighing the options, do I want a college degree in America, or do they want to be safe and get a degree from where they’re from,” UTA senior Alex Su said.

UT Dallas, with nearly 9,000 international students, said it’s committed to making sure every student will be able to stay and meet government requirements, by offering in-person and hybrid classes. 

Huang said it’s reassuring.

“Some of these students stay in the country for new companies, or the I like to call them, we make them taxpayers. They become part of our fabric,” UT Dallas Dean of Graduate Education Dr. Juan Gonzalez said. “And they do incredible contributions.”

Other North Texas universities are also trying to give students peace of mind.

UTA officials said, in part, it will work with its nearly 4,000 foreign students to "ensure a fair and effective educational environment.”

TCU said it "values the intellectual and cultural diversity international students bring," and will “make sure those contributions remain robust.”

But college administrators said even with their commitment to help students stay, the issue isn’t entirely resolved. 

“One of the things that we are still waiting is the final regulation. We just got a short explanation of what the present regulation is, but we want to make sure what the final regulation says to make sure we comply,” Gonzalez added.