Rwandan students in US set to return home

Rwandan students currently pursuing graduate and post graduate studies in the United States have been encouraged to make arrangements of returning home as uncertainty over continuing their education emerge.

Earlier this week, the US government through its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), announced that all international students who are pursuing degrees in the United States will have to leave the country or risk ‘deportation’ if their universities switch to online-only courses.

 

This means that only international students whose institutions are still carrying out in-person courses, as well as schools with hybrid models will not be affected by the announcement.

 

A hybrid model is one that facilitates both online and in person courses.

 

However, owing to the current coronavirus pandemic situation in the United States, Universities nationwide are beginning to make the decision to transition to online cases.

The move may therefore affect thousands of foreign students, including Rwandan students who go to the United States to attend Universities or participate in training programs, as well as non-academic or vocational studies.

In this regard, Rwanda’s Ambassador to the U.S Mathilde Mukantabana has appealed to all Rwandan students based in the U.S to prepare themselves accordingly.

“We have students in more than 200 institutions and each institution is handling it differently. Students have to contact their school to know which policy they have adopted.”

Additionally, Mukantabana noted, “Students should have received an advisory directly from their school and they should act accordingly”.

However, she said, “If their school has contacted them to say they will be on-line then they need to make arrangements to go home.”

State of confusion

In the wake of this development, however, Rwandan students have told The New Times, that there is a lot of uncertainty concerning the matter.

“Well, for now things are chaotic. I could say that it is unpredictable because many schools have failed to approve what the government is requesting. we are confused,” one of the students at La Roche University said.

Another concern with the new guidance, she adds, is the fact that travel itself is risky at the moment, hence not the best measure to be taken by the U.S.

Another student told The New Times that “There is so much uncertainty. It’s very confusing.” He added “Some students will afford to go back home but a number of them wont afford”

In a news release on Monday, ICE said that students who fall under certain visas "may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States," adding, "The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States."

The agency suggested that students currently enrolled in the US consider other measures, like transferring to schools with in-person instruction.

Statistics from the US embassy in Rwanda indicate that there were over 1,292 Rwandan students in the United States during the 2018-19 academic year.

eashimwe@newtimesrwanda.com

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