UK international students worried about fall semester

Published: Jul. 12, 2020 at 3:25 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement notified colleges Monday that international students will be forced to leave the U.S. or transfer to another college if their schools operate entirely online this fall. New visas will not be issued to students at those schools, and others at universities offering a mix of online and in-person classes will be barred from taking all of their classes online.

“It was a big shock to every university in the United States to suddenly get the news that our international students were going to be in a very bad situation,” said Sue Roberts, the Associate Provost for Internationalization at the University of Kentucky.

Roberts knows the future for nearly 800 students on campus depends entirely on how this semester happens. Right now, the University is planning a mix of traditional in-person classes, online classes, and hybrid classes. That means UK international students will be able to stay in the country this semester, but they know that could change.

“This virus is very unpredictable, so pretty much we don’t know what’s happening or what’s going to happen next,” Melissa Molho said. “Just because we’re fine now doesn’t mean we’re going to be fine later.”

Molho is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Plant Pathology at UK. She’s worried she’ll have to finish her degree back home in Mexico, even though she’s been in Lexington for six years.

“In the end, we are here because we want to learn, we want to contribute to society, to science, to technology,” she explained.

Melissa is scared, but hopeful, especially after hearing how the University is fighting for students like her. Roberts hopes those students feel valued. “It’s been, in someways, heartening to see him to see this sector come together to try and create a situation this fall that is one that enables all of our students to succeed no matter where they’re from.”

Classes are scheduled to begin Monday, Aug. 17.

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