International Students Postpone Studies in US Amid Delta Surge

A high proportion of international students have decided to defer their places at universities and colleges across the United States after the recent increase in the number of Delta variant cases.

Michigan State University (MSU) spokesperson Dan Olsen said that international students at the university are deferring their studies for at least one semester. Olsen added that the university is looking forward to welcoming 492 first-year undergraduate students from other countries, which number stood at 780 in 2019 before the pandemic hit, reports.

Whereas the spokesperson for Pennsylvania State University, Lisa Powers, told Bloomberg that some university’s 185 students have asked for visa deferrals until at least spring 2022, claiming that there could be more students with such requests.

“We have seen a bit of a scramble in the last two weeks of students who have discovered that they may not be able to arrive in time. We are attempting to help these individuals as much as we can, however, some things are beyond our control,” Powers stressed, adding that a total of 9,000 international students are expected to pursue studies in-person at the university this fall.

Furthermore, Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, which began classes Monday, said that around ten percent of 260 graduate students who supposed to begin studies this fall, announced last week that they have decided to defer their places.

“If we had not planned to allow students the flexibility to start remotely, definitely deferrals would be much higher,” the Director of International Students and Scholars at Lehigh University, Amanda Connolly said.

The United States hosted more than one million international students over several past years, with the majority of them coming from China and India. According to data, there were fewer students asking for deferrals this fall compared to last year in the same period.

Based on data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, international enrollments in the spring semester dropped by 16 percent compared to a year earlier.

As Delta COVID variant spreads, many universities in the United States have required their students to be vaccinated in order to safely open for in-person lessons. Some of them have even implemented incentive programs to convince students and staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The University of Virginia has most recently disenrolled more than 200 students while heading into the fall semester. It said that students failed to comply with the university’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

Over 700 US universities and colleges are currently requiring students and employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before the fall term begins.

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