As the financial crunch continues to haunt state universities across the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security has come up with a brilliant scheme. Foreign students who acquire paid internships must now shell out more money for required tuition and fees.
Changes made to immigration regulation require all international students who hold an F-1 visa to enroll in at least two credits if they pursue an internship, which is technically termed as the Curricular Practical Training (CPT). WSU has also adopted this change in regulation for the Fall 2012 semester.
I find this change in law ridiculous, and here is why.
This change in law does not hurt much if you are planning to take up some courses for that semester, too. A couple of credits might not even change the total amount of fees one has to pay. But in case it is summer, and you are planning to go in for just a summer internship, enrolling in two or three credits can cost international students $1,000 in tuition fees, which is a lot of money for most of us.
The stated aim of the new law is to ensure that government agencies are able to track international students and also to make sure that the internship is academic in nature. If so, the very next portion of the law seems to contradict this intention. A student who goes in for an internship, but is not paid by the employer, will be considered a "volunteer," and hence will not have to register for credits or pay a tuition fee.
It looks as if the new regulations have been put in place just as an additional tax for any international students who wins a paid summer internship. It is simply unjustified to ask for the payment of a service that is not being availed by the student. They are punishing students who earn a paid internship and rewarding those who do not.
The situation would be quite sad if such law is extended to international students who, after the completion of their coursework, go in for a 12 month Optional Practical Training, which is a paid internship. In those cases, students would end up paying about $3,000.
Some of my peers often argue that they see many international students driving swanky Mustangs, and so why should they not pay an additonal fee? I agree that there are many international students who are stinking rich, but there is no way they represent the overwhelming majority who are heavily dependent on financial aid from WSU or student loans taken back home to continue with their education.
Some peers also complain that foreign students snatch away what little is available in the name of funding. An article in USA Today in November 2011 claimed, "An analysis, conducted by Jason Baumgartner of Indiana University, found that nearly $28 billion in spending by foreign students was offset by $7.7 billion in U.S. support such as funding from a U.S. college, the U.S. government or a private sponsor." So, this argument is void, too.
To conclude, I would say that such laws would not deter hundred of thousands of students who flock to the U.S. every year in search of better education, and thereafter a better quality of life. It does not mean, however, that the agencies should go on fleecing the international students to put some more money in the pockets of universities.