International travel has become a difficult, and in some cases dangerous, task amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That poses big problems for Studies Abroad, and all spring 2021 Studies Abroad programs at UP have been cancelled.
In an email to Studies Abroad students today, the Studies Abroad office cited “the ongoing travel warnings set by the US State Department and CDC; significant ongoing travel restrictions and barriers to entry in our host countries; and additional mandatory, in-country safety precautions” as reasons for the cancellation.
“When we make a decision, we have to ask, ‘if someone were travelling today what would be the circumstances?’ There are still a lot of unknowns right now, and it would not be the normal travelling experience that we would like students to have,” Rebecca Seibert, administrative assistant for the Office of International Education said.
One of the most important reasons behind the program’s cancellation was the necessity for Studies Abroad students to prepare for the spring semester. Had the office reached a decision at a later date, students would have very little time to register for classes and find housing for the spring semester.
“We had to make a decision with enough time that it would not impact students negatively in the spring,” Seibert said. “We have been in communication with the registrar, Residence Life and all our partner programs to find out at what point this starts to impact the experience that students would have on campus in the spring if we cancelled any later. We didn’t want to have a situation where we waited too long and then a student couldn’t get enrolled in a course that they really needed or they didn’t have time to get any housing figured out.”
In the email sent out to students on Wednesday, a number of financial concerns were also acknowledged. Students’ study abroad deposits will automatically be applied to existing charges on their accounts or will be used as credit for future terms at UP. Students will also not be charged the studies abroad program fee, and spring invoices will be adjusted accordingly.
Though students who have already applied to study abroad will not be able to carry their application over to next year, applications for summer 2021 and the 2021-2022 academic year are now being accepted. Students can also reach out to the Studies Abroad office via phone, email, or virtual appointment from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday through Thursday.
Ajay Davis is a reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.