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International Students at Montana State University face pandemic challenges

Posted at 6:49 PM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 20:49:13-04

BOZEMAN — According to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, International student enrollment has dropped nearly 20 percent from the year 2019.

Montana State University experienced this dip in international enrollment, from 2019 to 2020. The Office of International Student Programs confirmed that around 500 international students came to Montana State University; the following year, just under 350 students were enrolled.

“Montana State University has a long history of hosting international students that come here to study,” Ellig said, “We have students from recent years that come from roughly 70 different countries.”

“The ongoing pandemic has added a level of complexity that students and their parents have to make,” Tracy Ellig said.

Tracy Ellig is the Vice President for University Communications at Montana State University.

“Montana State University has a long history of hosting international students that come here to study,” Ellig said, “We have students from recent years that come from roughly 70 different countries.”

Ellig continues that Montana State University, as well as other universities throughout the nation, had slowed down international travel, thus enrollment of international students.

Brett LaShelle, Director of International Student Fellowship at Montana State University, regularly talks with international students that are on the Bozeman MSU Campus.

“The vast majority will all tell you, everybody wants to come to America, they just do. So the overwhelming benefits of being on American soil and being apart of the American university system, far outweighs any COVID fear -it may not be the same said for the parent- but can they get here…that’s the question,” LaShelle said.

Genesis Chavez is an international student studying at Montana State University from Nicaragua and knows all too well the complexity of receiving an education ‘stateside during a global pandemic.

“Having the exposure in international borders, such as airports, that’s really a scary factor. Travel Restrictions, I think that’s the main factor. In my case to travel outside of Nicaragua, you have to take several steps and there’s a full protocol for you to go out of the country, and to go into,” Chavez said, “I do believe that some students believe that there’s a lot of risks involved, and if I had the opportunity to continue the program remotely then why not?”