Archived Story

Editorial: U of M conditional admission must end

Published 11:34am Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Department of Homeland Security recently signaled it would be enforcing a regulation that would make it harder for universities to allow enrollment of degree-seeking international students who lack English proficiency.

Many universities, including the University of Minnesota, currently offer conditional admission; these schools typically issue a single I-20 form for all international students seeking admission, regardless of whether they meet the English language proficiency standards set by the institution. While these standards are usually met prior to enrollment in degree courses, some students are accepted on the condition that they take English as a second language courses concurrently with their degree requirements.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program, a specialized branch of the Department of Homeland Security, warned that colleges will no longer be able to issue a single I-20 form for international students seeking admission who don’t meet required English language proficiency levels, as the Chronicle of Higher Education reported Nov. 19. Separate forms must now be filled out for students who meet all the academic eligibility requirements and those who may meet academic standards but lack language proficiency. As a result of this new regulation, students in the latter would only be able to take ESL courses focusing on improving language skills and may not enroll in college classes until they are proficient, at which time another I-20 form must be issued.

Meeting arbitrary language requirements shouldn’t be the only gateway to begin a degree. If a university believes a student can improve English skills while enrolling in major classes, it should be allowed to grant conditional admission. The Department of Homeland Security should not be the one determining the academic ability of international students.

— The Minnesota Daily, Nov. 27