UO Shows Support for International Students

July 7, 2020

Dear Colleagues,
On July 6, 2020, the federal administration in Washington, D.C., issued an announcement with near-final language for new rules on online enrollment for international students at U.S. universities this fall. This is another troubling step in an apparent effort to exclude international students from U.S. higher education.
The UO is steadfast in its commitment to welcoming international students, and holds firm to the core belief that international students are vital to our success in research, teaching, and building diverse and inclusive communities. With our dedicated colleagues in UO Government Relations and other departments across campus, we are fighting this latest move by the Trump administration in coordination with many of the major higher-education associations.
We are also pragmatically working on getting good information about this disturbing announcement to students and navigating every path to keep them with us. Here, you will find a detailed breakdown of the proposed rules and the impact on UO international students, and just below is an executive summary to help explain the issues.
International students, scholars, and those who support them are experiencing extraordinary stress right now. This comes on top of the shared pressure of the pandemic and our society’s efforts to grapple, again, with racial justice. Thank you in advance for any extra care and compassion you can provide to UO international students who may be struggling to make sense of how they can complete their studies.
Please feel free to direct them to me, or to the team in International Student Services (especially Associate Director Becky Megerssa, becky@uoregon.edu). We are thoroughly committed to making sure every international student at UO feels the full embrace of empathetic support and practical advice in this difficult moment. We will continue to fight tirelessly to keep them with us.
Dennis Galvan
Dean and Vice Provost
Division of Global Engagement
University of Oregon

Quick Summary of U.S. Rules on Online Enrollment for International Studies announced on July 6, 2020

  • This is an announcement of an upcoming rule change, to be finalized soon. The announcement includes the near-final language for the new rules. It still contains ambiguities that will likely be ironed out in coming days. It will also be subject to usual lobbying, hopefully effective, from many higher-education associations.
  • The main change is that international students in fall term cannot enroll solely in courses this announcement calls “entirely online.” This is actually a partial reversion to pre-coronavirus rules. They were modified in March to allow, for the first time, fully online enrollment.
  • At universities with some in-person instruction, students may take more than one online class, and may not take all classes online. Universities must certify that students are taking the minimal necessary online classes for degree progression. In the past, we have had some latitude in determining “minimum necessary” and we are seeking clarification for this new set of rules. It is a crucial point.
  • As long as the UO continues to offer some courses with an in-person component (e.g., lecture remote but with lab or discussion section in person), and as long as parameters for determining “minimum necessary” online enrollment are not too restrictive, our international students should be able to continue studying with us.
  • The rule leaves ambiguous the status of what we at the UO call remote classes (live, synchronous, digital as opposed to in person). We will seek clarification on this. It will be crucial if we end up without in-person enrollment in fall.
  • As of March 2020, there was some precedent from ICE/SEVP in treating remote (live, synchronous) as a form of in-person instruction. This pre-announcement leaves that unclear and indeed seems to suggest remote might now be understood as a form of online instruction.
  • The rule also does not appear to prevent students who are out of the U.S. from enrolling entirely in online classes. (A line deep in the announcement can be read otherwise, but it appears to refer to a technical element of I20 continuity for students overseas; we are seeking clarification.) This will permit us to move forward with our new #NoVisaNeeded alternate enrollment for international students who cannot enter the U.S.