On Monday 6 July, The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that any exchange students that are currently studying or beginning to study for Autumn in America must leave the country or risk deportation. The ruling states that any colleges that are to run exclusively online learning from now and in the upcoming semester cannot take any exchange students. Such students must leave or face deportation.

However, the ruling from ICE states universities that are to undertake a “hybrid” learning system would be allowed to take on international exchange students. According to business insider, of the top 25 colleges in the U.S; 16 of those will be hybrid, 5 will be online, and 2 will operate fully on campus, with 2 colleges still undecided. Notably, of the 5 colleges that are operating solely online include leading higher education institutes such as Harvard University and Michigan Institute of Technology.

While many international students are currently in limbo due to COVID-19 travel restrictions to and from the U.S, Ireland are not under any travel restrictions with the U.S. Any Irish students currently finishing studies online are advised to travel home. Further to this, any Irish students who have already traveled to the U.S to begin studying in Autumn 2020 may stay as long as their college has not transferred completely online.

While University College Dublin have confirmed their Autumn trimester exchange programme will not go ahead, Trinity College Dublin are continuing as normal with their exchanges, providing that their partner college are admitting exchange students. At the time of writing, neither UCD nor TCD have issued a statement.

The most recent reports from Irish-American student website ‘FullBright’ state there are just under 1160 Irish students studying in America. Further to this, the U.S took over 1 million international exchange students in 2019 according to the international institute of education.

Luke Murphy, Co-editor.