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International students need clarity on the vaccine requirements of US universities

Without adequate communication, international students are very confused by the disparate vaccine requirements of US universities.
BY BrainGain Magazine Staff Writer |   29-06-2021

BrainGain Magazine
Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

More than 500 US universities and colleges will require incoming students to get a COVID-19 vaccination, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. However, this requirement has confounded international students, since every university will have different requirements based on state legislations.

Understandably, students are annoyed.

Sudhanshu Kaushik, the founder of North American Association of Indian students, told The Pie News: ““I think the issue here is twofold. One is the lack of centralised places that students can get access to information.” The second issue is lack of standardization: “There are over 500 universities and theoretically every university, depending on the politics of the local region, can have a different policy, plus different standards on the vaccinations right through it.” 

The US needs to adopt a centralized policy as well as a means of communication in order to help international students prepare for a new year at university.

The Pie News also reported Sarah Spreitzer, Director, American Council of Education, as saying that the US institutions with vaccine requirements will extend all possible support to incoming students.

She explained that this could mean one of two options, “I have seen some institutions say they will accept any approved vaccine (US or WHO approved), and others have said students with a non-US approved vaccine would need to quarantine for a period of time before fully joining the campus and classes.”

However, for public universities like ASU can not mandate vaccine requirements. So, early communication and flexibility is still key if universities want to help their students.

In the current scenario, international students are keenly feeling the lack of empathy from the very institutions that are the first to solicit their attendance for economic and related reasons. Sudhanshu Kaushik was quoted as saying, “[I]t really showcases the lack of empathy and context to people understanding what’s happening around the world, especially in developing countries.”

India, for instance, has struggled with a catastrophic second wave, followed by a trickly flow of vaccinations.

He added, “Colleges are the first to really appeal to them for the value that they bring, the tuition money that they spend. But it really showcases a lack of understanding from the policies that they’ve put in place in our case in India.” 

Even with a year and a half to prepare, Kaushik expressed his frustration that institutions still seemed overwhelmed at the prospect of welcoming international students.
 

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