Karen Sloan (Law.com), Due to COVID-19, Fewer International Students Could Hit Law Schools—Hard:
International students have become an increasingly important component of student bodies and budgets at U.S. law schools over the past decade, but the COVID-19 pandemic appears likely to shut off—or at least dramatically narrow—that pipeline for the coming academic year.
Many international students want the experience of living and studying in the U.S. for a year or more and may be reluctant to sign up for online programs if university campuses remain closed in the fall, according to law school administrators. International travel restrictions could also hinder their ability to study in the U.S. In addition, whether foreign students will be able to obtain visas in time for the fall is also uncertain. The State Department has currently suspended routine visa services across the globe. Finally, questions remain about the ability of LL.M. students to sit for the New York bar exam if classes remain online, as the state’s rules require in-person instruction.
“It’s not going to slow down—it’s going to shut,” said Marc Miller, dean of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. “There is no plausible scenario for [international law students] to be here, even if they have the resources, schools are open, and they want to be here. If you can’t get a visa—unless you can start digitally—it doesn’t matter. And it’s not clear that people can start in January either. We may be talking about a year delay, or more, imposed by the realities of immigration policy and the availability of international air travel.”
Miller is one of many law deans thinking through how to adjust programming to accommodate international students who may not be able to come to the U.S. in the fall, or who simply don’t want to travel here amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Arizona has a small LL.M. program, but international students make up 20% of its J.D. class. ...
International students have become an ever-more-important component of law school admissions and finances, and a major decline in their enrollment numbers will have negative implications for many campuses. Schools rapidly added LL.M. programs in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis when the number of domestic applicants plummeted dramatically. The tuition dollars of foreign students has helped to fill the financial gap caused by smaller J.D. classes.
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