UTSA commits to offer in-person courses for new international students so they can live in the U.S. in fall


Ethan Gullett

The Rowdy statute standing in front of the Multidisciplinary Studies Building. New international students at American universities will not be allowed to stay in the U.S. during the fall, according to DHS, if they are taking all online classes.

Josh Peck, News Editor

UTSA will ensure that all new international students in Fall 2020 will have a partially in-person course load so they remain eligible to enter the U.S., according to a university spokesperson. 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rescinded previous guidelines that would have denied all international students studying at American universities from living in the U.S. during Fall 2020 if they did not have in-person courses. However, new international students will only be allowed to study in the U.S. if their coursework is not fully online. 

The reversal of the policy to block all international students from living in the U.S. during the fall semester if their classes were completely virtual came after Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued ICE and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over the policy. The lawsuit from the two universities called the law “arbitrary and capricious.” The two universities came to an agreement with ICE and DHS, resulting in the reversal. 

In light of ICE’s initial decision to bar international students taking only online courses from entering the U.S., UTSA had been planning to ensure that all of its international students would be enrolled in at least one hybrid class so they could remain in the country. International students who did not comply with the initial order to either leave the country, stay in their home country or transfer to a different American institution that had in-person classes would have been faced with the “initiation of removal proceedings.” 930 international students were enrolled at UTSA in Spring 2020.

International students make up 5% of the total student population in the U.S. — at UTSA, they make up 3% of the student body — and they contribute a large portion of tuition revenue to American universities because the vast majority of them pay full tuition. In 2015, international students made up nearly 30% of all tuition revenue for public universities. In the 2018-2019 academic year, international students are said to have supported 458,920 jobs and contributed $41 billion to the U.S. economy. In Texas, where 81,893 international students were enrolled in the 2018-2019 academic year, international students contributed 25,034 jobs and $2.2 billion to the Texas economy, according to NAFSA, a nonprofit focused on international education.

International students also make important cultural contributions to higher education in the U.S., according to research from Duke University. The research demonstrated that American students who interacted more with international students improved their ability to relate well to others of different nationalities, races and religions; synthesize and integrate ideas and information; and formulate creative, original ideas and solutions.