IU announced Friday that the university is joining a lawsuit against the Trump administration in response to a new regulation stripping international students of their visas if they pursue online-only education.
The federal lawsuit was filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Wednesday. IU joined a number of universities in signing an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims the new rules leave thousands of international students with few education options while failing to consider the health of university students and staff amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Forcing international students whose universities have opted for online-only instruction this fall to transfer to another institution or leave the country is simply wrong, misguided and indefensible,” IU President Michael McRobbie said in a press release.
The new federal guidelines affect both international students whose universities will have online-only schooling and who individually choose to take online-only classes. International students whose universities offer online-only courses this fall must transfer to other universities offering some in-person classes in order to keep their visas.
The press release said the regulations likely also apply if universities transition to online-only instruction due to a coronavirus outbreak at any point in the fall semester.
More than 7,700 international students enrolled at IU in fall of the 2019-20 academic year. McRobbie said IU is committed to allowing international students the flexibility to continue education online or in person. He said IU will fight for policies to protect international students in the future.
“IU’s international students are — and will always be — an essential component of the fabric of our campuses,” McRobbie said.
Hannah Buxbaum, IU vice president for international affairs, released a statement last week expressing opposition to the new federal regulations.
“It is unconscionable to inflict this level of uncertainty on those who have invested their time and trust in U.S. educational institutions,” Buxbaum said in the release.
Buxbaum said the government’s decision is made worse by the increased difficulty for international students to obtain visas in recent months.
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