Visa Crunch

Clouds of confusion prevail among international students due to differences in vaccination policies of various US institutions

International students arriving in the United States this fall face a perplexing image of vaccine regulations, with some students requiring additional vaccinations and state-level restrictions causing regulations to vary greatly among institutions. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, 662 universities and colleges require students and staff to be vaccinated before returning to the university. The vaccines that are being accepted vary from university to university. Because there is currently no federal requirement regarding vaccinations, colleges and universities are developing their own rules regarding which vaccines they will approve before allowing a student to enroll.

Several institutions will only recognize vaccines that have been FDA approved or by the WHO. Data reveals that some countries vaccinating their populations that are not on either of these lists. Before returning to campus, students from these countries are likely to be quarantined and receive additional jabs.

“This demonstrates the camouflaged obstacles that many students face.” And we experienced a significant drop in college and university enrollment, particularly among overseas students,” Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, said. “Educational institutions must be clear and communicate as often as necessary regarding altering regulations, taking into consideration the most recent federal requirements, the CDC’s guidelines, as well as their own organizational policies and procedures,” she said.

Furthermore, varying state-level prohibitions create a muddled picture when it comes to vaccination requirements. Several states have limited the ability of colleges and other organizations to prohibit vaccination requirements using Covid-19 countermeasures such as the compulsory wearing of masks. Whereas government universities in states like Florida and South Carolina will be unable to impose vaccination requirements, private institutions will be able to do so.

Higher education investors are also concerned that state-level constraints could lead to serious outbreaks on university campuses, particularly considering the Delta variant’s spread. State actions that prohibit the use of “established and effective” community health methods simultaneously as Covid-19 cases rise, according to US HE organizations, are a “disaster in the making.” “Educational institutions have approximately 18 months of hard-won journey responding to the disease outbreak and attempting to prevent and contain the spread of the virus on campus,” the HE institutions stated. They also asserted that curbs hinder the ability of all organizations, including universities and colleges, to work effectively and adequately in an unpredictably volatile environment. “Consequently, these restrictions prevent educational institutions from undertaking accountable and rational health policies, putting students, teaching staff, employees, and surrounding communities at risk,” they added.

Pasquerella reiterated the issues of those in the surrounding communities, including those on campus. “I’m concerned about what will ensue in the fall, even if we can get fully operational in time for the start of the fall semester within few weeks. I am concerned that universities will be closed down again as a result of the Delta variant,” she added.

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