Study Abroad and University-Affiliated Student International Travel During COVID-19
February 10, 2021
KU Study Abroad & Global Engagement (SAGE) excels in the offering of high-quality, affordable, and experience-rich international education programs to students. We recognize the strong desire of our student body to take part in these programs and activities and the challenges of international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below you will find information on the status of study abroad and university-affiliated student international travel activities at KU, as well as information on the factors influencing future decision-making. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you might have.
What is the current status of study abroad and university-affiliated student international travel at KU?
- University-affiliated travel outside the U.S. by University of Kansas faculty, staff and students is currently restricted. Lawrence and Edwards Campus staff, faculty, and scholars may travel only if it is essential to fulfilling their job’s core function, or if it provides essential support to the university, such as some research or lab work. University-affiliated student travel is permissible only if approved by the International Travel Review Committee (ITRC) following a comprehensive assessment of the program, planned travel activities, and public health context in the destination country(ies).
- Travel restrictions are informed by current guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of State (DOS) which advise against all non-essential international travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Travel restrictions are also informed by KU policies governing student international travel, including the KU policy on University-Sponsored Travel to High-Risk Locations and University-Affiliated Student International Travel.
- Travel restrictions do not apply to personal travel. However, students considering personal international travel are strongly encouraged to weigh the risks as articulated by the CDC and State Department and to register travel through the Student International Travel Registry.
- Any person traveling to KU from abroad must follow CDC, KU and KDHE recommendations and requirements. At this time, this includes provision of a negative COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival to the United States, personal health monitoring, and immediate notification to your healthcare provider if symptoms develop.
To assess risks related to study abroad and student international travel, the university uses a number of resources, including governmental agencies (U.S. Department of State, Center for Disease Control and Prevention), the World Health Organization, the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), professional health and security organizations, assessments by university partners abroad, U.S. Embassy country-specific information, news outlets, and more. University updates can be found at www.protect.ku.edu
COVID-19 will remain a source of risk in international travel for an undetermined amount of time. However, international, national and regional experiences are not uniform and therefore the risks associated with travel are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. When making decisions about specific international travel activities, KU and Study Abroad & Global Engagement (SAGE) consider information from a variety of resources (as cited above) as well as local conditions and program-specific factors, including:
- International travel restrictions (open/closed borders, commercial flight availability, accessibility of U.S. embassies/consulates, immigration requirements, and host-country entry requirements)
- Public health conditions in the destination location (COVID-19 transmission rates, the availability of testing, public health mandates, and restrictions on daily activities)
- Host institution preparedness (mitigation plans, guarantee of academic continuity should changes to course delivery be needed, student accommodations, support services)
- Student preparation, acknowledgement of risk, proof of comprehensive medical insurance, parental waiver (as applicable)
For study abroad programs, Study Abroad & Global Engagement submits comprehensive program assessment materials to the International Travel Review Committee, comprised of representation from the faculty, Watkins Health Services, General Counsel, Global Operations, International Affairs and Study Abroad. Materials will be reviewed and decisions on student travel rendered approximately 60 days in advance of program departure. Decisions on program continuity will be communicated directly by email to students, faculty directors and academic departments at that time.
What is the status of Spring 2021 study abroad programs?
Study Abroad & Global Engagement is supporting student participation in a limited number of study abroad programs to select destinations during the Spring 2021 semester. Additional information on the process being followed by Spring 2021 students is available here.
Domestic and international travel restrictions are loosening as COVID-19 transmission slows in many regions of the world and local communities and national governments successfully implement staged reopening plans. While the risks associated with travel and Covid-19 will continue through the summer term, with meaningful and practical application of risk mitigation strategies, SAGE is planning to offer a limited portfolio of on-site summer programs to students.
Study Abroad is currently partnering with the KU academic departments and our partners abroad on program planning and development for the summer term. As we work to construct programs that meet both academic and cultural immersion goals as well as the constraints of international travel during COVID-19, we will offer a more limited portfolio of programs, modified to incorporate best practicies in mitigating COVID-19 transmission and spread. Examples of changes that may be made to a program to support student health abroad include:
- Student accommodations, to include a more limited use of host families or multi-occupancy (3 or more) hotel or dormitory rooms;
- Program excursions, to included limited or no out-of-country or long-distance travel;
- Hybrid learning or remote work could be employed in some locations to minimize the number of students in a classroom or at the work site on a daily basis;
- Mandatory compliance with all local regulations and restrictions (masks, social distancing, gathering size, etc.)
- Limitations on student independent travel on free days/weekends.
Applications for summer 2021 study and internship abroad programs are open. However, please note that this does not guarantee that a program will be offered.
Students who are interested in study abroad during the summer term should do the following:
- Meet with your KU academic advisor and SAGE Program Manager to discuss your interest in study abroad, academic objectives, and program opportunities. Apply to your preferred study abroad program(s) by the deadline indicated on the program website.
- Following admission to the program, complete all post-acceptance paperwork as outlined in your JayhawksAbroad portal and submit the contract by the due date indicated. If you have concerns regarding submission of the contract, speak with your Program Manager.
- Do not purchase airfare, pay housing deposits, or make other financial commitments until you have been notified by Study Abroad & Global Engagement that you can move forward with your plans for study abroad. If you do choose to make financial commitments such as the purchase of airline tickets, we strongly suggest that you consider fully refundable airline tickets and/or trip cancellation insurance ("cancel for any reason" coverage) and verify that the policy will cover cancellation due to pandemic.
The University of Kansas will make decisions on the operation of all summer 2021 study abroad programs on a case-by-case basis approximately 60 days in advance of program departures. If SAGE makes any changes to your program, we will reach out to you directly via email. Please check your KU email account and JayhawksAbroad account regularly.
If KU determines that we cannot safely operate a program due to COVID-19 and SAGE cancels the program, you will not be charged the KU Required Fee or KU Program Fee and SAGE will void your financial contract. If programs remain operational and you choose to withdraw from the program, you will be bound to the withdrawal policy outlined on the financial contract.
Students applying to programs administered outside of KU (direct enrollment programs, student-initiated programs, etc.) should speak with the program provider regarding their withdrawal policy for the Summer term as you will be subject to this policy and any associated deadlines. Should the partner cancel your study abroad program, you will not be charged the KU Study Abroad Required Fee. Should the program remain in operation and a student elect to withdraw from the program, the student will be subject to the withdrawal policies of both the provider and SAGE as outlined in the financial contracts.
Program information and applications are available online at www.studyabroad.ku.edu.
SAGE is currently planning to offer a full portfolio of study abroad programs in diverse countries during the Fall 2021 semester, provided travel restrictions, public health contexts, and host institution planning permits programs to operate. Applications for available Fall 2021 programs are currently open and available online at www.studyabroad.ku.edu.
Studying abroad during COVID-19 will be different! Just as KU and universities across the United States are developing comprehensive plans for student health and safety as campuses reopen this Fall, partner universities abroad are modifying academic calendars, class schedules, course delivery, student accommodations and many other facets of academic life to support student health and well-being at their institutions. A student’s experience abroad at this time will be different than what they may have originally imagined. For example:
- Academic Experience: many programs and universities are implementing a hybrid online/ in-person format for the upcoming semester. There may be changes to the academic format of your program and additional rules or restrictions may be put in place to govern the number of students and student spacing within the physical classroom.
- Student Housing: the availability and type of on-campus housing may differ as campuses seek to reduce the number of students in confined quarters. Students may need to exercise flexibility in the selection of housing or be prepared to find housing off-campus.
- Independent Travel: independent travel outside of the city and/ or country in which you are studying/interning/conducting research will be limited. Country borders may be closed, travel restrictions or quarantine measures may remain in place, and there may be rapid changes to a country’s entry and exit requirements. In addition, host institutions or program providers may have student behavior contracts in place limiting independent travel.
- Program Excursions and Activities: Excursions may be altered or canceled to adjust to current health and government recommendations and to support student health and well-being.
- Quarantine: your semester abroad may include a 2-week quarantine upon arrival should this be required by local/regional/national governments, or a quarantine at a later time should you, another student, faculty or staff with whom you are a contact be exposed to the coronavirus.
If Study Abroad & Global Engagement makes a decision to cancel a program before the program’s official start date, students will receive a full refund of all fees paid directly to SAGE. Given the uncertainty of the international travel environment in light of COVID-19, students are encouraged to maintain a back-up plan (enrollment at KU, housing, etc.) for the term of their study abroad program until they receive confirmation from SAGE that their program will be offered.
Should a program be suspended while students are on-site, SAGE will immediately inform students and their emergency contacts and students will be advised on the process for return home. In this situation, SAGE works closely with the academic departments at KU and with our overseas partners to mitigate to the greatest extent possible the potential impact of program suspension on students’ academic progress. Where possible, students will complete coursework remotely through the host institution. In the event remote learning is not feasible, SAGE will work with the academic department to explore on-campus course options for KU students impacted by program suspension.
If a program is cancelled after its official start date, refunds will be provided for recoverable costs only and will vary depending on a number of factors. SAGE will only be able to refund recoverable costs paid directly to KU. Students participating on programs administered by partner organizations will be required to work with that partner to determine any recoverable costs.
Graduate and undergraduate students engaging in all other university-affiliated international travel should register through the Student International Travel Registry as per established policy. Covered activities include: non-credit bearing travel organized or sponsored by a KU unit, faculty or staff member; travel supported with KU funding; international performances or athletic competitions; travel organized or sponsored by KU student organizations; and travel by students to meetings of academic and professional associations, including conferences. International travel registration must be completed not later than 30 days prior to departure.
Students registering travel to locations with a Department of State travel advisory level 3 will be required to secure approval through the KU International Travel Review Committee (ITRC) in advance of travel. Students approved for travel to a DOS Level 3 destination will be required to sign the associated waiver and release of liability for travel to high-risk locations. Parent/guardian signature is required on this document for all undergraduate students.
It is strongly encouraged that all students traveling internationally for personal reasons register travel activities through the Student International Travel Registry.
Upon return from international travel, all students must follow KU and KDHE recommendations and requirements. At this time, this includes personal health monitoring and immediate notification to a healthcare provider if symptoms develop.
Study Abroad & Global Engagement, in collaboration with domestic and international partners, has created a number of Virtual Study and Internship Abroad programs. Students can earn academic credit at KU, gain intercultural competence and career skills, and engage globally through these experiences while remaining local. For more information, visit our websites at http://studyabroad.ku.edu/virtual-study-abroad and http://studyabroad.ku.edu/virtual-international-internships.
There are myriad ways to gain global competencies while on the KU campus. Opportunities such as the Global Awareness Program, Global Scholars program, Global Partners, foreign language and area studies, and more are excellent ways to engage your curiousity for the world!