Delta Variant Forces International Students to Defer Enrollment

The renewed surge in US COVID-19 cases caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant has caused some international college students to postpone their enrollments.

Bloomberg conditions that the deteriorating health situation, coupled with the difficulty of obtaining student visas and flights, has deterred international students from continuing their education and could signal that the return to face-to-face learning this fall semester will be far from normal.

Prior to the pandemic, U.S. colleges and universities typically expected around 1 million international enrollments (mostly from China and India) and postponements weren’t as common. However, the overall enrollment rate is among students from abroad suffered a massive hit during the 2020-2021 academic year and was only recently on the way to recovery.

“We’ve started getting calls for the past week or two. When we receive calls from abroad, they are usually deferrals, “said Erin O’Brien, Assistant Dean and Chief Enrollment Officer at the University at Buffalo School of Management in New York.

O’Brien said that 44 percent of students admitted to the school’s Graduate Business School last year had to defer and 59 percent were international students. With just a week left before the fall semester starts, O’Brien believes the trend will only increase and have a negative impact.

“If you [international students] were completely absent from our campus, that is of course a loss of sales. It’s also a hit with the campus community, a hit with culture, a hit with student life, “said O’Brien.

Affected universities

Pennsylvania State University has already received requests from 185 students to postpone their visas to Spring 2022 or later. University spokesperson Lisa Powers said the school may hear from more students in the near future.

“We have seen a bit of a mess of students over the past two weeks realizing that they may not be able to arrive on time. We try to help these people as best we can, but some things are beyond our control, ”said Powers.

Michigan State University is also affected. University spokesman Dan Olsen announced that the MSU had heard from international students about their intention to postpone the semester.

At Lehigh University, about 10 percent of its 260 international students were also put off last week. Amanda Connolly, Director of International Students and Scholars at Lehigh, said, “If we hadn’t planned on giving students the flexibility to start remotely, the deferrals would definitely be much higher.”

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