Florida State recognizes International Education Month
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Despite changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida State Seminoles are recognizing international education throughout the month of November.
This week kicks off International Education Week, a joint effort by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education. At FSU, these programs are celebrated all month long.
The pandemic has caused some drastic changes to international programs, especially when it comes to program size.
Dr. Stephen McDowell, Assistant Provost of International Initiatives, says the number of international students is down about 20% when compared to a typical year. Part of that is because of the challenges students face in acquiring Visas.
McDowell says about two-thirds of International students started this year remote learning from their home countries.
“Students who were outside the country, most of them were not able to get Visas,” McDowell said. “However we were able to have a number of students start online from overseas in Fall of 2020, mainly graduate students.”
Vaibhav Diwanji is a PhD candidate in the School of Communications. He’s originally from India, and has been studying at Florida State for five years.
"As an International student, we have to worry about a lot of things, first off Visas. If Visa rules change, whether we’ll be able to be in the U.S. or go back to our home country and come back when it’s possible again, "Diwanji said.
The doctorate student added that, with all courses held online this year, a lot of students were concerned about Visa policy changes, and not being allowed to stay in Tallahassee.
Luckily, he said he was able to stay here. But now with the pandemic, he says he doesn’t know when the next time is he’ll have a chance to return to India to see family.
“I was planning to go back home during this summer because I had waited the last two years,” Diwanji said. “I was really looking forward to going back this year but again, due to COVID-19 pandemic, it wasn’t possible.”
Diwanji expects to finish his studies this summer. He’s applying for jobs both locally and back overseas.
Study abroad programs are also changing because of the coronavirus.
The university canceled study abroad programs for spring, summer and fall of this year.
McDowell says they are planning to allow a small group of students to study at international FSU campuses next spring. The university is looking to add some restrictions, like limiting groups to 20% of dorm capacity and prohibiting students from traveling outside of their study abroad cities.
“That’s a place where we control the housing, we control the classrooms, we can control a lot of the environment because we have campus facilities there. Our goal is to have the same protocols in place that we have on campus,” McDowell said. “What we’re trying to do is figure out ways that we can continue to emphasize the importance of reaching out to the world, of international education, even though we know programming is going to be different.”
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