Official Student Media of Valencia College

Valencia Voice

Official Student Media of Valencia College

Valencia Voice

Official Student Media of Valencia College

Valencia Voice

Federal On-Campus Law Makes Scheduling Difficult For International Students

For international students, Valencia College’s lack of in-person or mixed-mode classes with some majors have been problematic. (Tatiana Poroger)

In the post-Covid world, many students want to remain online. But international students can’t. By federal law, they must be on campus for 75% of their term. Can Valencia College keep up with the requisite?

International students must complete a minimum of twelve credit hours during the fall and spring terms. Out of these twelve, only three credit hours can be applied to online classes each semester. In other words, out of every four classes a student is enrolled in a semester, he or she can take only one class online.

Talia Popovski, Senior Director of International Student Services, explained the reason behind this rule, “If you are going get a visa to enter the U.S., you need to be on campus. Otherwise, just take it from home.”

The problem for Valencia’s international students is finding enough in-person class options.

“It would be really good if immigration laws were to be updated to a requirement of only 50% of classes on campus. The world is changing,” said Raquel Defavori, New Media Communication.
But the rule doesn’t seem to be changing in the near future. Therefore, sometimes students have to make
inconvenient adjustments.

“This fall semester, I had to take two classes that have nothing to do with my program to fulfill the in-person requirement. This is costing me over $ 3,000 that I could be using towards my bachelor’s degree if I had more in person choices in my program,” said Cintia Krebs Franco, a Business major. She is currently taking Personal Health – HSC-1100 and Care/Prev of Athletic Injuries, classes that are not part of her major.

Popovski explained that during the Covid-19 pandemic, these federal requirements were waived. But eventually they would return. “We have always been clear with students that the guidance for Covid was only until summer 2023,” she said.

“It’s always been the rule. During the pandemic, there was guidance allowing online classes only. This Fall (term) was the return to normal requirement,” International Student Services Assistant Director Michele Torres explained.

For international students, Valencia College’s lack of in-person or mixed-mode classes has been problematic. When asked how Valencia responds to federal requirements, Career Program Advisor Kristol Bell said, “ (Valencia College) are willing to make accommodations, but there are a lot of moving parts; it all goes back to faculty availability.” She added, “Some departments are doing better than others. We try our best to get students in compliance.”

Courtney Lewis, New Media Communication Program Coordinator says, “We are addressing the issue of international students on online programs by offering at least nine credits of face-to-face or mixed mode classes to meet the federal government requirement for in-person instruction.”

According to Boundless Immigration, Inc.’s “International Students in the U.S.: Trends and Impacts in 2023“, Florida has the fifth-most international college students in 2022. International students contribute to the U.S. economy in the amount of $33.8 billion and create more than 300,000 jobs.

According to Valencia College’s fact sheet, the college has 1,195 international students from 104 countries. Those students pay $390.96 per credit hour more than three times what in-state resident students pay. Besides financial contributions, international students also bring global perspective and cultural exchange to campus.

Valencia College shows that international students are a valuable asset to the college. Are all departments willing to include more in-person classes to meet federal requirements? International students await future schedules to find out.

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