Virginia Tech cancels study abroad programs for 2020-2021 winter session

virginia tech logoVirginia Tech has canceled all study abroad programs scheduled for the 2020-21 winter session. The university remains committed to doing everything possible to allow spring 2021 study abroad programs to continue.

The Global Education Office informed all affected students and faculty members on Tuesday.

This decision is being made now in hopes of minimizing the financial and academic impacts on students and on programs currently in the planning process, Director Theresa Johansson said.

“As a global land-grant university, Virginia Tech is committed to improving the human condition worldwide and educating students who will understand their connection to fellow humans everywhere and excel at working collaboratively on solutions to global problems. The pandemic has brought home to us the vital importance of this work,” she said. “The university’s decision to encourage continued planning for spring programs is a clear statement of our commitment to returning to full study abroad engagement as soon as the world’s public health circumstances allow.”

The announcement follows the recommendation by the university’s Global Travel Oversight Committee to cancel winter study abroad and allow spring planning to go forward. Chaired by Don Hempson, associate vice president for international affairs, this committee reviews Virginia Tech’s programs abroad to locations with heightened levels of security and/or medical concerns. The committee is meeting regularly to assess the status of current and future programs.

Students intending to participate in faculty-led, exchange, direct enrollment, third-party, research, and internship programs will not be authorized to depart until travel advisory levels from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. State Department are de-escalated to Level 1 or 2.

“While current restrictions make almost all study abroad impossible, we are hopeful that these restrictions will ease in the coming months,” Johansson said.

Before the pandemic forced the cancellation of summer and fall programs, interest and participation in study abroad programs at Virginia Tech had grown steadily in recent years. In 2019, the university was recognized by the Institute of International Education for increasing its student participation rate from 17 percent to 23 percent.

“The challenges of the global crisis that has left no corner of humanity untouched brings into sharp focus the absolute need for our students and faculty to be deliberately out there in the world,” Hempson said. “In the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), our commitment to developing the global leaders of tomorrow demands that we be present to converse, to learn, to share, and to seek solutions to the problems confronting our interdependent world.”

The Global Education Office, part of Outreach and International Affairs, also continues to promote the globalization of the university’s curriculum by encouraging faculty to integrate lessons in cross-cultural concepts and global engagement. The Global@Home webpage provides links to resources and tips to assist faculty in globalizing their courses.

More information on the impact of COVID-19 on study abroad programs is available on the Global Education Office website. Individuals with questions should email vtabroad@vt.edu or access weekly virtual advising hours.

Rommelyn Conde Coffren contributed to this report.


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