|A series of notes from the Vice Chancellor about important information about remote international appointments for summer and fall. (March 23, 2021)
Dear Deans, Department Heads, and Graduate Administrators,
With the spring semester now underway, we are turning our attention to summer and fall 2021 planning for remote international appointments. We are also writing with related information about remote course enrollment for students this summer and fall. We are writing to you early in this process because we want to make sure students, departments, and administrators have as much time to plan as possible.
We are asking that you make your faculty members and principal investigators aware of the planning for summer and fall 2021.
Remote International Appointments
As in prior terms, some students who remain abroad will need to have their appointments modified in some way–which may include a change in funding source, a conversion of an RA/TA appointment to a non-service fellowship appointment, or a conversion to non-paid status. Departments are expected to cover any costs that come with modifying student appointments.
With this in mind, we have developed a series of communications related to remote international appointments:
Because April 15 is fast approaching, we need your help in communicating with your newly-admitted students as soon as possible.
Thank you for your assistance and partnership.
Ian A. Waitz
1. Draft letter to newly-admitted international graduate students who need to make enrollment decisions before April 15
Subject: Important information about remote international appointments for newly-admitted graduate students
Congratulations on being admitted to MIT [or insert program].
Given the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on travel, visas, and our campus operations, you no doubt have questions about what life on campus will be like. President Reif recently sent a letter outlining a framework for the Institute’s approach to summer and fall operations. I encourage you to read the letter if you haven’t already.
I am writing to you now with important information about remote international appointments for summer and fall 2021 because we want to make sure you have as much time as possible to plan your decision (due April 15) about enrolling this coming year.
First, some background…
We understand that some students will be unable to come/return to the U.S. for reasons that are beyond their control. If you are in this situation, I encourage you to contact [insert department grad administrator or other contact] as soon as possible to explore whether and how this guidance affects you.
Thank you for your attention to this matter, and for your understanding as MIT seeks to return to full operations and our pre-pandemic appointments practices. And, once again, congratulations on your acceptance to MIT! We hope you will choose to join [insert DLC/program name]’s dynamic community of students, faculty, and staff.
[dean / department head / program head]
2. All enrolled graduate students
Subject: New Institute guidance for summer and fall remote international appointments
We hope the semester is going well for you.
With the spring semester now underway, we are turning our attention to summer and fall 2021 planning. You likely saw the recent communication from President Reif outlining a framework for the Institute’s summer and fall operations. As explained in the letter, MIT will use the summer as a time for slowly “dialing up”, with the campus expected to return to full academic and research operations by the fall. We encourage you to read his letter if you haven’t already.
As MIT transitions back to full operations, we will be transitioning to pre-pandemic appointment practices as well. We are writing to you early in this process because we want to make sure you have as much time to plan before the start dates of your summer and fall appointments.
MIT is expecting graduate students to conduct their summer and fall U.S.-based appointments from inside the U.S., and to enter/return to the U.S. prior to the start of those appointments (June 1 for summer appointments, September 1 for fall appointments). We will have a limited exceptions process for summer and, if needed, envision an even more limited process for the fall. This decision is based upon several factors:
We understand that summer term is a few months away and that some students with summer 2021 appointments will be unable to return to the U.S. for reasons that are beyond their control. Therefore, for the summer term, we will provide a limited exception process for graduate students who face significant hurdles to coming/returning to the U.S., such as visa delays, travel bans, and certain medical situations that prevent the student from coming/returning to the U.S..
Our goal is to focus this exception process and dedicate MIT resources to those students who are prevented from coming to the U.S. or would face the most significant obstacles if they attempted to return.
As in prior terms, some students who are approved to remain abroad may need to be moved to other appointment types or otherwise have their appointments modified. More information about the limited exception process can be found here.
Given the goal of returning to full campus operations by fall 2021 as expressed in President’s Reif’s letter, we hope to phase out the exceptions process and return to standard appointment practices for the 2021-2022 Academic Year. However, we understand that some students may continue to face pandemic-related obstacles to coming/returning to the U.S., including continuing travel bans and visa processing delays. Students in this situation should reach out to their graduate administrators over the summer so that we can determine whether an international appointment exceptions process will be needed for very limited cases in the fall.
In closing, we would like to underscore how much MIT values our international student community. Our support during the pandemic for remote international appointments is one example of our care and concern. Still, the pandemic has placed significant constraints and required difficult decisions of individuals and institutions alike. And we understand that students find themselves in very different circumstances – some for example may want to return this summer and fall but, due to conditions beyond their control, may not be able to.
Please know that we are committed to transitioning back to more standard appointment policies in a thoughtful, careful way, and we are doing our best to give all international students the time, information, and access to resources they need to make informed decisions in the coming weeks and months. Our letter to you today is the first step in this process.
As always, whatever your current situation and plans for the summer and fall, please reach out to support resources such as GradSupport, the International Students Office, and departmental resources to help with your decision-making and planning.
I hope the semester is going well for you.
With the spring semester now underway, we are turning our attention to summer and fall 2021 planning. You likely saw the recent communication from President Reif outlining a framework for the Institute’s approach to summer and fall operations. As explained in the letter, MIT will use the summer as a time for slowly “dialing up”, with the campus expected to return to full academic and research operations by the fall. I encourage you to read his letter if you haven’t already.
As in the fall and spring, MIT is not able to offer paid UROPs or other hourly wage opportunities such as graders or TA roles (regardless of funding source) to undergraduate students who are not physically located in the U.S. during the summer 2021 and fall 2021 terms. (Note: These opportunities may not be paid by stipend in lieu of hourly wages.)
Students living abroad, however, may apply for credit-only UROPs, and may participate in paid UROPs upon their return to the U.S. Given the challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic, we will waive the tuition requirement for these credit-only UROPs for summer 2021.
Due to various U.S. and foreign country restrictions and compliance obligations, credit-only UROPs and experiential learning opportunities involving activities in Iran, Syria, Cuba, North Korea, the Crimea region of Ukraine, China (including Hong Kong), Russia, or Saudi Arabia are subject to a review process. The UROP office or the unit that is responsible for the student’s experiential learning opportunity will advise students when a review is necessary and assist with collecting and submitting necessary information. Reviews are conducted by MIT’s Remote International Appointment Review Team, comprised of representatives from several MIT offices.
If you have any questions, please get in touch with the UROP staff via email or at (617) 253-7306.
Ian A. Waitz