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This semester, Penn was able to continue to remotely employ international students who held on-campus jobs. Credit: Chase Sutton

Undergraduate students living outside the United States will no longer be able to hold on-campus employment positions for the spring semester. 

Penn is typically unable to directly employ personnel abroad due to local country tax, labor, and employment regulations, Executive Director of Global Support Services Artemis Koch wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian. Following exceptions made by some countries to accommodate displaced workers due to the pandemic, Penn was able to deviate from this policy and continue to remotely employ international students who held on-campus jobs like teaching assistant and work-study roles this fall.

Koch said for the spring semester, however, undergraduates residing outside the U.S. will not be able to continue their on-campus employment positions regardless of whether or not the work responsibilities can be performed remotely. No exceptions will be made, according to the Penn Global Support Services website.

Computer and Information Science Associate Professor Andreas Haeberlen described the "significant" loss of TAs as a “major headache” for the CIS department.

“The big issue is the size of the TA pool," he wrote to the DP. "If we have fewer TAs, office hours will become more crowded, getting answers to Piazza posts will take longer."

He added it may be harder for students to enroll in some popular classes if maximum enrollment size has to be reduced due to the limited number of TAs.

Piazza is an online discussion platform that allows students to post questions with pictures of their work and receive immediate feedback from professors and teaching assistants.

Director of Communications for Penn’s Division of Finance Paul Richards wrote to the DP that Penn currently has 83 international students with work-study jobs this fall. This count does not constitute all international students employed by the University, as roles like being a TA do not require students to receive a work-study award.

Due to the online format of NETS 212: Scalable and Cloud Computing, Haeberlen wrote that he has posted over 1,300 Piazza messages in response to students' questions this semester, and it takes him five to ten times longer to prepare materials and lecture recordings than in a normal semester. He worries that losing TAs will make online learning more difficult for students to get immediate help on assignments from their TAs and professors. 

Graduate students whose teaching or research is required for an "essential component of their degree," as determined by their departments, will continue to be paid regardless of where they work, according to Penn Global Support Services.

Penn will not be able to offer any alternative options for undergraduates to pursue work study or TA positions outside the U.S., Richards wrote.

“[Student Registration & Financial Services] is working to identify undergraduate international students on financial aid who will be impacted by this guidance to determine how we can best support them financially during the spring semester when they are unable to work," Richards wrote.

All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.