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The Trump administration backed away Tuesday from a recently announced policy change that would have required international students to leave the country when classes go fully online.

A lawsuit filed initially by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later joined by California public colleges sought to block the policy from being enforced.

The news that the Trump administration had rescinded the policy change was met with relief by administrators and students who initially had been left scrambling trying to determine what to do.

Nathan Jensen, associate dean of Orange Coast College's Global Engagement Center said that he and the entire administration are tremendously relieved by the latest development.

“This is exactly what we were hoping for,” Jensen said.

According to Madjid Niroumand, vice president of Student Services, the college had been looking into some hybrid class options with a face to face instruction component.

However, the school is no longer pursuing this as the need no longer exists, according to Jensen.

For students like 18 year old Aziz Abbasov, a computing sciences major from Azerbaijan, going home wasn’t an option.

Flights to his country are infrequent, need to be booked months in advance and are often astronomically expensive, he said.

He said he also felt unsafe traveling at the moment particularly to Azerbaijan where COVID-19 rates are currently spiking. The outbreak is all the more personal after the loss of Abbasov’s father to the virus two weeks ago.

Abbasov said that while fearing he would have to leave the U.S. he looked at transferring to schools in Canada, adding that he felt he was running out of options.

He praised OCC’s responsiveness and effective communication in helping to assuage his fears.

“I think after this decision came out our international office and school leadership was really responsive to the whole international community at Orange Coast College. And they organized town halls, they answered our questions and they actually tried to do something and help us. So that kind of gave me that [feeling] we are not alone. We have people who support us,” Abbasov said.

According to OCC President Angelica Suarez, the entire campus community has come together with a desire to help international students.

“I have received emails from staff, faculty and administrators with a strong desire to help in any way they can. Really this is symbolic of the spirit of care and genuine compassion for our students,” Suarez said.

Jensen echoed her comments, adding that international students enrich the entirety of the college and can positively impact the educations of all students on campus.

“International students bring that global perspective to the classroom discussion and to co-curricular activities. Not every single student will be able to study abroad and see what it's like in another country. And having that experience of interacting with a student who comes from somewhere else and how they look at things, it just means so much,” he said.

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