New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Guest Essay: How NYU department policies are harming international students

Pramath Pratap Misra is the chair of the Student Government Assembly’s International Student Affairs Committee.
Kiran Komanduri
(Kiran Komanduri for WSN)

NYU is renowned for championing diversity, equity and inclusion, evident in its myriad committees, events and organisations. However, the stark reality diverges from this narrative, particularly concerning international students, a demographic the university prominently hosts. Unfortunately, our policies, ostensibly designed to embrace diversity, have proven less than accommodating for this vibrant community. Many international students aren’t just pursuing an education at NYU; they seek the enriching experiences offered by internships and jobs. These practical training opportunities not only provide global exposure but also significantly enhance employability. Unfortunately, this vital aspect of their academic journey has been overlooked by several university departments.

To comprehend the issue at hand, it is essential to delve into the nuances of visas and work authorization that international students navigate. At NYU, a significant portion of students are issued F-1 visas, opening avenues for employment beyond campus through Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training. CPT, known for its student-friendly nature, is contingent on internship courses offered by departments. This avenue is sanctioned by the federal government, allowing 20 hours for part-time and no hour restriction for full-time work while pursuing their academic programs. On the other hand, OPT becomes relevant during the graduation phase with a tedious application process that can take up to three months, with only a one-year window for employment. If used before graduation, you are not allowed to work afterward.

The issue is that a substantial number of international students at NYU find themselves excluded from the CPT program. This exclusion often stems from the fact that many departments at NYU either do not offer any internship courses or impose restrictions, compelling international students to either reduce their work hours significantly or engage in unpaid internships. This places an immense burden on these students, both mentally and financially, compelling them to utilise their OPT prematurely. Disturbingly, this critical information is not effectively communicated to international students during the admission process, leaving them uninformed about the potential challenges they may face in accessing valuable practical training experiences.

Despite NYU’s rhetoric about affordability and opportunity, it falls short on both fronts for international students, not due to federal limitations, but its own rudimentary policies that lack the adaptability needed for a global institution. The exclusion of international students from CPT courses unveils the university’s true commitment, seemingly prioritising profits over the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion. This incongruity underscores the need for a thorough revaluation of policies to align with the evolving landscape of higher education and the diverse needs of its international student community.

The situation not only amounts to a disservice to international students but also robs them of opportunities they’ve paid a substantial price for. While commendable steps have been taken by some colleges, such as the School of Professional Studies and Stern, to enhance access to CPT, a significant disparity persists. Particularly within the College of Arts & Science, ongoing efforts seem geared toward discrimination against international students, evidenced by the persistent absence of internship courses. This not only detracts from the holistic NYU experience but actively hinders the academic and professional growth of international students.

I urge President Linda Mills to look into this crucial matter of utmost significance and devise a solution for the international student community. By doing so, we can foster a more supportive environment that enables international students to thrive and fully embrace their college experience at NYU. Your timely intervention could make a significant difference in enhancing the inclusivity and opportunities available to this vital segment of our university community.

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact Pramath Pratap Misra at [email protected].

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