Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

WA attorney general challenges proposed federal rule regarding international students

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson
Elaine Thompson
The Associated Press (file)
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the Trump administration’s proposed rule for international students “harms nearly every Washington state higher education institution” and he’s suing to block it.

The rule would revoke visas for international students who attend U.S. universities or colleges and only enroll in online classes.

About 27,000 international students attend universities and colleges in Washington and spend about $1 billion in the state every year, Ferguson said in a statement. The president’s proposed rule forces colleges and universities to rush their decision-making about holding classes online and would mean a potentially significant loss in tuition revenue, he said.

At the University of Washington’s Seattle campus, international students total more than 8,000, with about half from China and about 800 from India. UW President Ana Mari Cauce said she had been talking with Ferguson’s office about legal action.

“This new ruling is a real slap in the face,” Cauce said in a UW town hall about the coming academic year. “In fact, it’s cruel and it’s callous to students who are bringing an incredible richness to the learning experience of all of us.”

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued earlier this week to block the directive from going into effect. Harvard had announced that it plans to only offer online instruction in the coming academic year.

The University of Washington, which was the first major university to switch to remote learning when the pandemic took hold in Washington in March, is planning a mix of in-person and online instruction for the fall quarter.   

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.