Hundreds of thousands of Chinese students enroll at U.S. colleges and universities each year, and right now, a lot of them are freaking out.
As schools try to figure out how to start the fall semester amid the coronavirus pandemic, some — including Harvard University and the University of Southern California — are opting for online-only instruction. And that means their foreign students will have to leave or transfer, according to new rules issued Monday by the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency.
In order to keep their student visas, foreign nationals have to take in-person classes, according to ICE. The new guidelines quickly sparked rage and anxiety in China, which sends more students to U.S. schools than any other country.
By noon on Tuesday, posts on Weibo related to the new guidelines had gained almost 55 million views. Many aimed their anger at the U.S. president, including one commenter who said Donald Trump’s biggest contribution was “boosting Chinese people’s patriotism and eradicating all the friendliness and hope for America.”
“The pandemic has already made the U.S. unsafe enough, and Trump just made the environment for international students even worse,” said Ada Xu, 27, who is getting her masters degree in marketing analytics at the University of Rochester. She’s planning to return home to China in August and finish her degree remotely, a decision she calls “totally right.”