International students stay: The impact and the importance

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — This week the Trump Administration dropped a policy that would ban international students from staying in the country if their universities only offered online classes in the fall semester due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Students would have to leave the country or transfer to a university that offered some form of in-person classes. After backlash and lawsuits, that policy was rescinded.

Brad Bodenhausen, the associate vice president of International Education and Training at Missouri State University, says he’s pleased this policy was dropped, even though it would have had minimal impact at MSU.

“This really created a lot of chaos and confusion at a time where there’s already great uncertainty and anxiety, especially among international students,” he said. “So, we are glad that this order was rescinded.”

MSU is offering a hybrid format in the fall semester, which begins in the middle of August. That means students will be able to take classes online, in-class, or both.

Bodenhausen says it’s a complicated and difficult process to be eligible and to become an international student.

First, students need to be admitted into an American university, have a document called an “I-20” and then go to a student visa interview at a U.S. Consulate in the country where they live. If approved, that’s when they come to the country to attend college.

The immigration process is costly, in addition to the out-of-state tuition international students pay.

“It takes quite a commitment from them, financially, and then personally,” Bodenhausen said.

There are many benefits, he says, for campus, the community and the country.

“I think this global pandemic shows us how important it is for us to be connected, because of issues whether its health, economy, really don’t know boundaries of states or nations,” he said. “It’s critical to get to know international students, to understand the talent they bring to our community, but even more so than that, the cultural learning they give to us and receive from us in the community.”

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