Two top universities in the United States of America, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Wednesday sued the government of Donald Trump over its guidance not allowing foreign students to take online-only courses in the country starting from the September semester.
Harvard had announced earlier in the week that all course instructions would be delivered online, including for students living on campus.
CNN quoted the university as saying the guidance would to affect some 5,000 international students.
“The order came down without notice, its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness. It appears that it was designed purposefully to place pressure on colleges and universities to open their on-campus classrooms for in-person instruction this fall, without regard to concerns for the health and safety of students, instructors, and others,” Harvard University President Larry Bacow said.
Visa requirements for students have always been strict and coming to the US to take online-only courses has been prohibited.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement maintained that prohibition in its guidance, while providing some flexibility for hybrid models, meaning a mix of online and in-person classes.
The agency suggested that students currently enrolled in the US consider other measures, like transferring to schools with in-person instruction.
The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, seeks to block the directive, arguing it violates the Administrative Procedures Act.
The universities argue that ICE’s decision not to provide an exemption for online-only courses puts them in an “untenable situation” of either proceeding with their plans to operate fully or largely online or attempt to provide in-person learning.