With the Day of Giving drawing nearer, students have largely been treated as revenue-generating cash cows. It is time for NC State to take care of every section of the student body. NC State hosts over 6,000 international students from 129 different countries every year and needs to publicly affirm their commitment to these students by providing them with more resources and opportunities.
On top of physical and financial challenges of the pandemic, international students are taking on a major emotional toll. With their family and close friends far away, FaceTime calls and emails have become the sole ways they’ve been able to have a semblance of a social life and some normality. Remote mental health access could help with that as well as linking students with peer mentors.
Most international students are fearful right now, given the political uncertainty of this pandemic; those who returned home are also scared about being unable to return to complete their education. Counseling support, keeping in mind the various time zones, can make a big difference. For non-English speaking countries, tutoring services and times need to be extended as well.
NC State should provide increased academic advising as well as visa counseling sessions, so students can make informed decisions about their course of study, relocation and other relevant issues. U.S. laws regarding F-1 student visas and H-1 work visas are changing rapidly, as the federal administration considers new regulations. Expert advising about these hazy times is critically needed to dispel panic and confusion among students.
Since campus jobs in libraries, coffee shops and cafeterias have largely dried up as a result of campus shutdown, many students have lost the meager part-time income that paid for their weekly groceries. They are also barred from working off campus, so reserving some on-campus jobs for international students in addition to allowing them to work off campus during these unforeseeable times would definitely decrease their stress levels.
For instance, the University of Wisconsin at Stout’s Office of International Education has reportedly worked closely with its international students throughout this ordeal. They have held virtual optional practical trainings. They also pursued emergency grant funding through the International Education-Emergency Student Fund. Similar practices here at NC State will give international students more direction.
The main reasons most international students choose to stay in this uncertainty is the higher quality of education American universities have to offer and the opportunity to end up working in the world’s strongest job market. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has drastically altered the balance of these trade-offs. As international students put in more effort to stay connected with the Wolfpack, now is the time for NC State to reciprocate that effort.