The growing proliferation of vaccines and the global leadership of the United States promise a bright future for international students.
This past weekend in big cities and small towns across America, thousands of university students did something that was hard to imagine just a few months ago.
After so many months of virtually learning through computer screens and through Zoom, they put on hats and dresses, waved to loved ones, tearfully cheering them on, and walked across the stage, personallyto get diplomas and graduate.
After 15 months of unprecedented losses and hardships from the relentless COVID-19 pandemic, we can say without hesitation the words we have been waiting for: America has reopened, and it happened faster than any of us thought.
But it did not happen by accident.
Since December 2019, the United States has launched the most aggressive vaccine distribution activities in the history of our country. In just five months, more than 60% of the U.S. population (that’s over 275 million people!) Received at least one dose of the available COVID vaccine.
The results were extraordinary. New cases, which were at an alarming level back in February and March, have fallen to some of the lowest levels since the start of the pandemic and are falling every day. Thanks to the truly excellent collaboration between government, nonprofits and the private sector across the country, vaccines are widely available across the country. And most recently, the Biden administration announced an increase in vaccination of young people aged 12 to 16, which will significantly increase our percentage of vaccinated people.
Watching the country’s staggering progress last Thursday, President Biden declared a “great day for America” by promoting new recommendations that reinforce the many ways we can finally begin a return to our lives before the pandemic, including lifting restrictions both indoors , and in outdoor activities for people who have been vaccinated.
No one is safe from the effects of the COVID pandemic, and those of us who are committed to international higher education have had to face enormous challenges to make sure students from around the world can access a transformational experience at U.S. universities. That’s why we are happy and relieved to share that we are confident that the upcoming summer and fall semesters will be incredibly bright for international students.
So what does the rapid recovery of America mean for international students?
First, it is important to note that although different rules apply at each university, we expect that many of them will require students to be vaccinated to participate in on-campus training. All international students are eligible for the vaccine upon arrival in the United States, and costs are fully covered by most health insurance plans.
In addition, many American universities, including Harvard University, New York University and American University, have begun to receive vaccines approved by the World Health Organization from other countries, including Sinopharm, in addition to vaccines Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson widely available in the world. USA We expect this trend to continue in the coming days, and are confident that university officials will work closely with their government partners to ensure that there is a plan to support international students seeking to return to campus.
Aside from America’s exceptional efforts to vaccinate, there are also many signs that now is more than ever a good time for international students to study in the United States. With the change of leadership in Washington, DC, the public perception of international students continues to improve as more of our leaders at all levels of government learn and understand the contribution and value that international students contribute to our communities on campus.
And yet, despite all the positive news, I would be unacceptable if I also did not turn to the devastation that is now unfolding in India and other countries around the world that are now experiencing their worst weeks of pandemics. Just as many other countries came to the aid of the United States when the first wave of the pandemic hit us, I also believe that the United States has a responsibility to send aid and support to countries facing this current surge. To date, the U.S. has sent millions of doses of the vaccine overseas, and millions more are on the way. We can and must continue to put pressure on the Biden administration to do more to help those in need around the world.
While there is still work to be done to fully recover from last year’s darkness, I am very optimistic that the future for international students is incredibly bright. We will continue to work to eliminate any barriers that may affect our students, and we can look forward to welcoming you in the coming weeks and months.
Chairman, US News Global Education
Co-founder and CEO of Shorelight
Member of the Board of the Johns Hopkins University School of Education