Renewed travel ban appears to exclude university students, but apprehension remains

Politics already may have chilled interest from abroad

(FILE PHOTO) University of Iowa junior Monzer Shakally meets with attorney Christopher Malloy at the Student Legal Services office in the Iowa Memorial Union on the UI campus on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. Shakally is a native Syrian who came to Iowa in high school on a student visa and is now here under temporary protected status while seeking asylum.  (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
(FILE PHOTO) University of Iowa junior Monzer Shakally meets with attorney Christopher Malloy at the Student Legal Services office in the Iowa Memorial Union on the UI campus on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. Shakally is a native Syrian who came to Iowa in high school on a student visa and is now here under temporary protected status while seeking asylum. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Monday’s Supreme Court decision largely permitting President Donald Trump’s travel ban is unlikely to affect international students at Iowa’s universities any more than the issue already has, according to officials and attorneys.

The court signaled it will this fall take up the broader issue of the president’s authority in immigration matters. And around the nation, universities were reviewing Monday’s ruling that appears to exempt college students, faculty and lectures from the ban.

Much remains unknown, said Krista McCallum Beatty, director of Iowa State University’s International Students and Scholars Office. Her office “anticipates that most ISU international students and international scholars from the six affected countries will be exempt from the travel ban,” she said in a statement. “This will become clearer as international students and international scholars enter the U.S.”

Christopher Malloy, a lawyer who is director of University of Iowa Student Legal Services, went further. He said he believes Monday’s decision also could exempt from the ban prospective students from the affected countries who want to apply to a university using the traditional student visa method.

“That is just my initial impression,” said Mallow, saying that until the court makes a final call on the president’s authority the impact is going to come down to how the State Department and authorities view and act on the order.

On the UI campus, Associate Provost Downing Thomas sent a message to international students after the ruling.

“If you are from one of these countries, you can stay in the U.S. provided you maintain your current visa status,” he wrote, but then quickly cautioned: “We strongly recommend that citizens of these six countries not travel to any country outside of the U.S. at this time. If you do, you may not be able to re-enter the country.”

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Syrian native Monzer Shakally, 21, is about to start his senior year at the UI and is in the process of applying to dental schools. He’s been studying for weeks for the dental admissions exam, and the UI is his top choice.

He hopes to stay in the United States long-term. But he’s awaiting word on his application for political asylum, which he sought years ago.

“For now, I am planning on staying on course,” he said.

Although the number of students from the six affected countries attending Iowa’s public universities is small — exact figures were not available Monday — talk of foreign travel bans may have dampened the interest of international students more generally.

ISU said last week it expects this fall’s incoming class of international students to be smaller than in recent years.

ISU notes its 4,131 international students in fall 2016 represented about 11 percent of the student body.

Compared with this time last year, the number of first-year undergraduates who have accepted offers to attend ISU is down about a third, according to Katharine Suski, ISU’s admissions director.

At the graduate level, international applications were down about 15 percent as of June 1.

ISU chalked the decline up to, at least partly, politics — noting it seems to be linked to the presidential election.

Although international enrollment is declining nationwide, Suski said, the Midwest has been hit most. At ISU, applications from Chinese students — which accounted for more than 40 percent of its overall international enrollment last fall — have declined.

International students pay the highest tuition.

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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