Supporting international students in your classes this semester

April 8, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I hope that the return to classes is going well.

As you resume teaching in this new context, I am writing to urge you to remember the needs of our international students. My colleagues and I held group meetings with international students this past week and heard their many concerns. We have students returning to over 115 countries where governments are dealing with the virus in highly variable ways, ranging from complete lockdowns to near-total neglect with little public health infrastructure. We also have students returning to countries where access to the internet may be difficult or complicated by government surveillance. At the same time, international students are worried about immigration issues that make it difficult to travel, study and work. One given is that these students are spread across a range of time zones, creating real challenges for active participation during regular Ithaca class times.

Despite all of these difficulties, many international students have written to me to say that they are committed to doing well in class, both for their own educational progress and, in some cases, to satisfy the requirements of scholarships offered by private and public actors in their countries.

If you have not already, please check in with your students to find out their local time zone, whether they have regular access to the internet and are able to use the tools you are using for your course, such as Zoom or Panopto, and whether they feel comfortable participating openly in online activities and discussions. Depending on the time zones your students are in, you may have to record or otherwise post your lecture material and arrange for discussions and exams at times that are reasonable for them. Please remember: no student can be expected or required to participate regularly in a course-related activity or take an exam before 8 a.m. or after 10 p.m. in their time zone.

On behalf of the university and international students from around the world, thank you so much for this extra effort. If you have any concerns or questions about teaching and international students, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

Also, now that classes have started, check out the latest on:

  • Zoombombing
  • Maintaining FERPA compliance
  • FAQs related to administering online exams, university-scheduled exams, security of online course materials and ensuring students who have returned to China will be able to access all course materials.

All the best,

Wendy Wolford
Vice Provost for International Affairs