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UW President ‘fully supports’ lawsuit to allow foreign students to stay in U.S., despite ICE ruling

The University of Wisconsin System is going on the record as opposing federal rules that would send international students home if their university does not offer in-person classes. 

(The Center Square) – The top man at the University of Wisconsin says he is 100 percent behind a court effort to keep foreign students inside the United States – even if they are taking classes online.

UW President Tommy Thompson on Monday said the lawsuit, which Wisconsin joined earlier in the day, ensures that nearly 6,000 students at UW Madison may remain in the United States.

“International students are welcomed here at the UW System. We fully support the Attorney General’s action today joining the lawsuit challenging the ICE rules regarding international students,” Thomson said.

Immigration authorities announced this month that international students who are not taking in-person classes would not be granted student visas. In essence, they would need to return home to take online classes.

Thomson said UW campuses will offer mostly in-person classes this fall.

“While we provided background for the lawsuit, our belief is that our universities’ planned hybrid model of teaching delivery during the fall 2020 semester ensures our compliance with the rules if they are upheld,” Thompson said.

Currently the plan is to send all UW students home after the Thanksgiving break to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the flu, or any other disease that students may pick up on visits back home.

Wisconsin Attorney Josh Kaul said it is simply wrong to tell international students to learn from home.

“This unlawful policy pressures colleges and universities to provide in-person instruction regardless of whether it’s safe to do so,” Kaul said.

Sending international students home could hurt Wisconsin’s economy, he added.

International students are big business for universities.

UW Madison lists the total cost for a year of school for a Wisconsin student at $27,228.00. That number jumps to as much as $55,535 per academic year for international students.

The numbers clearly show sending international students home for the year would hurt the UW System’s bottom line.

Kaul’s office broke down just how much money the university stands to lose:

  • At UW-Stevens Point, 84 international students from 20 countries pay more than $2.2 million in tuition.
  • At UW- Stout, 97 international students contribute nearly $2.7 million in tuition.
  • UW-Milwaukee could lose up to half of the approximately 1,200 international students, who pay approximately $21.5 million in tuition, and $5.1 million in housing, in addition to the money these students spend at businesses supporting the local economy.
  • UW-Green Bay has 80 enrolled students with F-1 visas who contribute approximately $1.4 million in tuition and fees every year. Green Bay could lose up to $831,100 if its 32 newly admitted students who require F-1 visas are not admitted to the county.
  • In 2019, international students at UW-Madison paid approximately $161.8 million in tuition and fees, and $18.8 million in housing.

Kaul’s office added that more than 1,000 classes, or 26.5 percent of courses, are taught by international teaching assistants.

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