Catcher on the Rhein, English
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Administration first accepts students, then denies enrollment on arrival

By Ottavia Mossetto – Kleve, Germany

German text here

COTR_art_denied_enrollment_Credit_Uzair_Munir

denied enrolment of prospective students alienates them from campus environment. Art by Uzair Munir

“It is hard to be here without much to do,” Basiouni said. “I had to put so much effort to come here, starting with the 8,000€ I had to place in a blocked account just to be in Germany. All this money is not even enough.”

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International students were accepted into study programs, arrived in Kleve just days late and were denied registration to the university, and about a hundred people sought assistance online.

This year Hochschule Rhein-Waal (HSRW) sent a message to all applicants. The message stated that the deadline for enrollment at the university is no longer extended to November 15. For this year, it remains October 15. Yet, just like in the past, people arrived late. In some cases, when they saw that they were going to be late, they decided not to come.

“The deadline was strictly October 15,” Ventresco said. “Some students arrived literally the day after with suitcases, directly from the airport, and they were turned away. It was horrible.”

According to Student Service Center employees, only five to six students arrived late for registration and were denied enrollment. According to Ventresco, many people affected by the problem never arrived.

“Prospective students and their parents are contacting us by email, complaining that they received the admission letter too late to apply for the visa and to be on time for enrollment,” Ventresco said. “I can probably count a hundred of these emails.”

The reason for many latecomers has to do with the timing of the acceptance letter from the university and the visa process from that point. Many students received an acceptance letter in September. This means that people are expected to finish the visa process between September and October 15. In many cases that is less than 4 weeks to complete the process.

“I had to wait two months just to get an appointment at the embassy in order to issue my student visa,” said Omar Basiouni, a prospective student from Cairo, Egypt who was denied enrollment upon arrival in Kleve. “Back then I didn’t even know if I was admitted at the Hochschule or not.”

Basiouni is one of many international students who came to Kleve  and was denied enrollment upon arrival. He was days late. What happened this year could seem normal if the university would not have, in the previous years, always extended the deadline.

“For non-restricted programs the deadline was always postponed to November or even December” Ventresco said.

According to Ventresco, the problem for latecomers is that by entering the study course late, they would not be able to attend often mandatory labs or courses in order to get all the credits acknowledged.

The university executive board emailed a statement to explain why the deadline was not extended this year. According to the statement,  in past years the enrollment deadline was extended to November 15 for some degree programs. The board claims that the vast majority of these students were unable to complete a single module in their first semester. Worse, as some second-semester modules build on first-semester modules, this meant that the initial problems of late arrivals extended into their second semester.

“Students were forced to complete first-semester modules in their third semester of study, essentially losing an entire year of study,” stated the email from the executive board. “This delay led to serious visa-related complications with the local Immigration Office, as international students must obtain a certain minimum number of credits or face the risk of losing their eligibility for the renewal of their student visa.”

The executive board assumes that those that arrive late will miss course work, and this will affect the visa extension process. However, this is not always the case.

“I arrived in Kleve on the 17th of October,” Basiouni said. “I knew I was late but I had friends in Kleve to whom a deadline extension was granted the last years. I guessed it could have been the case also this year. Instead, I arrived here and they just told me that I could not attend university this year.”

According to Basiouni, back in Egypt he attended university. In order to apply at HSRW, he had to drop out of his university back home. To qualify for the visa to travel to Germany, Basiouni had to get over 12 different stamps of approval from Egyptian government agencies. He says now that he is in Germany, he can neither go back nor stay here.

COTR_stamp_image_enrollment_story

Student collects more than 12 stamps from different offices in the home country to apply for student visa in order to study in Germany. Photo by Ottavia Mossetto

“It is hard to be here without much to do,” Basiouni said. “I had to put so much effort to come here, starting with the 8,000€  I had to place in a blocked account just to be in Germany. All this money is not even enough.”

In order for Basiouni to stay in Germany, he must find another study program before January 2019. Otherwise, he will need to leave Germany.

“I have to find a study course in order to have the visa definitely granted,” Basiouni said. “I will probably have to enroll in a random language course.”

University professors gave a statement on the issue. Dr. Dirk Nissing, dean of Technology & Bionics, says he supports the board statement. Dr. Jakob Lempp, dean of Society & Economics, talked about the problem in two directions.

“Enrolling students in non-restricted BA study programs until November has, in the past, partly led to a situation where some first semester students had difficulties in actually meeting all these requirements,” Lempp said. “On the other hand, it is perfectly understandable, that people who successfully applied for a study program at our university should have a realistic chance to actually register.”

The issue evolved around those students who came too late to meet the specific coursework requirements. Yet, what is not considered by the new deadline date, is that many of those affected most are international students, who arrived from thousands of kilometers away. Now, they must go back home.

“I was shocked they didn’t accept me with just three days delay,” said Basiouni. “Why so rigid on the rules? I had friends that went to register on the 15th but the office was so overcrowded that they told them to come on the 16th. They were registered late, why not me?”

 

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