study abroad 2021
Is studying abroad possible in Spring 2021 given the pandemic? Source: Shutterstock

Study abroad programmes in 2020 were cancelled or brought to an abrupt halt when the pandemic hit and lockdowns began. For those who didn’t get to fulfil their dreams to study abroad this year, will they get a second chance in Spring 2021?

Travel restrictions are slowly easing, and several European countries are allowing those from low-risk countries back in. Yet, with no vaccine yet and no telling when the pandemic will be over, study abroad programme organisers are cautious about whether to proceed with Spring 2021 plans.

According to The Observer, however, a student-run publication serving the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College and Holy Cross College in Indiana, USA, Spring 2021 study abroad programmes at Notre Dame is set to resume as planned. An email sent to students on Aug. 10, 2020 stated, “At this time the university fully intends to run all Spring 2021 study abroad programmes and will proceed accordingly.”

The email also informed students that pre-departure meetings will begin soon, urging students to avoid buying plane tickets until further instruction from programme directors. Senior director of global education Hong Zhu also said, “The decision may change as we continue to monitor the situation around the globe in the coming weeks.” He also said that Notre Dame International, the study abroad programme at the university, will be considering a variety of different factors that are affecting these programmes.

These include COVID-19 response and healthcare capacity of each partner country, US Department of State and Center for Disease Control and Prevention travel guidelines, host university preparedness for safeguarding against the virus, and flight or visa restrictions. Zhu said, “We plan for different scenarios, and we conduct risk assessments programme by programme and country by country. With health and safety conditions improving in some countries while deteriorating in others, we will continue to monitor daily the health and safety environments of all programme locations.”

study abroad

A street seller wearing a face mask (L) proposes straw hats to tourists outside the Colosseum monument on August 22, 2020 in Rome during the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Source: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Similarly, the University of North Carolina plans to “run as many Spring 2021 programmes as possible, provided that the programmes remain open and accessible to our students,” according to the website. The programme is accepting applications until Sept. 10, 2020.

Yale Study Abroad at Yale University is also being cautiously optimistic, stating that applications are open from Sept. 1 to Oct. 15, 2020 for Spring 2021 study abroad programmes. Its website states, “By Nov. 15, 2020, we will determine if it is necessary to suspend all or some spring sponsored international travel. More information about next steps will be provided according to the outcome of that travel announcement.” At Illinois State University, however, the Study Abroad Office has announced that Spring and Spring Break 2021 study abroad programmes are all cancelled.

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