COVID-19 Disrupts Flow of International Students Return to Campus

COVID-19 Disrupts Flow of International Students Return to Campus

Tony Roberts, Staff Reporter

Due to the challenges of online learning and the U.S. government’s restrictions, N.C. A&T will lose international students over the country’s failure to contain the pandemic.

Ana Olaya, a senior multimedia journalism student, is from Bogota, Colombia. She is a member of the N.C. A&T women’s bowling team. Olaya fears that she will not return to her country if there is another international lockdown.

“I may not be able to go home because my country is shut down,” Olaya said.

Olaya is not facing this issue alone, at N.C. A&T, there are 381 international students on campus. Of the 381 students, there are 114 students that are undergraduates. According to College Factual, international students are 3.1% of N.C. A&T’s population.  

Due to COVID-19, this percentage may decrease because many students are struggling to get their visas. 

Although the U.S. has relaxed its travel restrictions, according to the U.S. News, Columbia has recently reopened its borders on Sept. 21. As countries are slowly reopening, there is speculation of a second lockdown that will impact the spring semester. Students may have to decide on whether to stay in the U.S. or risk trying to go back to their country. 

In March, the Office of International Affairs accommodated students by giving them plenty of time to move off-campus.

The U.S. did not reopen regular visa issuance until July 14, 2020. Olaya explained that her teammate had to stay in Colombia because she could not get her visa approved by June 1, which was the deadline for students to return for the fall semester.

“My teammate could not ask for a visa because COVID-19 delayed everything,” Olaya said.

With many students struggling to get a visa, some students have decided to stay in their home country and take online classes or attend a different school.

If more international students are forced to take online classes this can decrease the value of the university and increase tuition for all students because their tuition is more costly and makes up for pay cuts in state funding. In today’s society, colleges promote diversity and an inclusive environment that allow students to be successful and highly competitive in the job market.

International students come to the U.S. for work study opportunities, internships, student unions and for the United States’ cultural environment. 

To learn more about Student Visa guidelines, please visit travel.state.gov