Illustration by Tom Abi Samra

Final Students Anxious to Return to Campus

95 percent of students have made it to campus, but the remaining five percent wait anxiously for their entry permits or for travel restrictions to ease. NYU Abu Dhabi administration hosted a call for those students to discuss their options.

Sep 19, 2021

On Wednesday, Sept. 15, the Office of Global Education at NYU Abu Dhabi hosted a Zoom call for the remaining members of the community who have not made it to campus. As of that call, only ten students had not yet received their entry permits and the remainder of those not on campus are either awaiting travel restrictions to lift or for the implementation of on-site rapid testing in their home country’s airport. Over 95 percent of students have already returned to campus.
Administration shared that the remaining entry permits are still trickling in and are being sent to individual students as soon as they are received, but that the process is outside of the university’s purview. Many permits have been delayed for unknown reasons and others, still, have been received with errors.
Nghĩa Trí Nìm, Class of 2024, has received his entry permit but is still at home in Vietnam due to travel restrictions. Passengers from Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nigeria and Zambia are required to complete rapid PCR tests in order to fly, but their countries’ airports do not currently support this technology.
Nirvana Amjad, Class of 2025, from Pakistan received her itinerary on Sept. 13 after waiting months for her permit.
“I was not given very transparent information about why I'm still at home,” said Amjad. “All I know is that my entry permit was rejected by the UAE government and NYU was reapplying on my behalf.”
Many students feared that they would be forced to take a Leave of Absence if they did not arrive on campus by Oct. 3. Instead, students were encouraged to look at remote and blended course offerings from global sites before add/drop deadlines passed. Add/drop deadlines differ throughout the NYU global network, so although the deadline for adding new Abu Dhabi courses had passed, students still had the ability to join select courses from other global sites.
Students were also encouraged to consider joining NYU Abu Dhabi seven-week courses happening during the second half of the fall semester with the hope that by Oct. 24 all students will have been on campus. Further, faculty members who are willing to offer blended sections of their courses will work with the registrar to accommodate students unable to return to campus.
“Enrollment was a complete rollercoaster while still at home. I had to email professors begging them to extend the period that their classes remained online and sending out like 20 emails in a day just so I had a chance to maintain enrollment in my current classes,” said Amjad. “Thankfully I have shifted to online sections and a global class now, but the emotional impact of having to possibly defer a semester was very distressing.”
Finances have also been a primary concern of students still stuck at home. They have been unable to access their study support which is distributed as on-campus currency that cannot be accessed outside the UAE. In addition, they have also faced unexpected financial burdens of spending extended time at home. The administration will follow up with the office of Student Finance about students being able to access this study support in their home countries if they are unable to get to campus.
On-campus employers have been encouraged to create more remote and blended student assistantship students so that those students off campus are able to support themselves and gain work experience. Students were further encouraged to reach out to the Center for Academic Technology for any technology or internet related support while at home.
For many students, the challenges of being stuck at home are not restricted to academics. With the majority of students on campus, it can feel very isolated and disconnected to only connect with classmates over Zoom.
“Not being able to meet my classmates in person is taking quite a toll on my mental health,” shared Nìm. “I feel quite lonely from time to time and there is not much relief aside from the hope that I will be able to see my friends eventually on campus.”
The university and administration have reaffirmed their commitment to helping these students get to campus as quickly as possible while also accommodating their needs as much as possible in a remote format. They’ve encouraged students to reach out for support if they need it, either through the Wellness Exchange at or through GeoBlue counseling.
Grace Bechdol is Editor-in-Chief. Email her at
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