Spring 2021 in-person Education Abroad programs canceled; other options available

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The University of Connecticut announced that Education Abroad for the spring 2021 semester will be fully online. 

This was confirmed by Yuhang Rong, Associate Vice President for Global Affairs at UConn. 

“The university made an announcement last week that we notified all students who applied for the spring semester Education Abroad that all in-person Education Abroad programs have been canceled,” Rong said. 

However, this doesn’t mean that students interested in Education Abroad are totally out of options for the spring semester. As Rong explained, there will be some virtual programming.   

“We have established some virtual programs with partner universities and internships which will come up in the days to come. We’re also working with our exchange partners to see if we can do some virtual exchange programs,” Rong said. 

Virtual abroad programming involves both taking virtual courses from international universities and doing virtual internships with international companies. 

While students interested in Education Abroad obviously don’t actually get to go abroad, hosting the programs online does provide for some extra flexibility. Rong gave the example of a virtual exchange program, in which a UConn student does a virtual program at an international university and an international student does a virtual program at UConn. Such an online exchange program may allow students to take some classes at their home university and some classes at an international university, which was not a common option prior. 

“We’re discussing details because say, for example, you don’t want to take all four classes [from an international university], you just want to take two. Is that possible? We’re working on those details right now,” Rong said. “The beauty of virtual is we can roll those programs out whenever they’re ready. You don’t have to worry about packing, booking tickets, finding a place to stay and all of that,” 

All Fall 2020 Education Abroad programs were canceled due to the U.S.’s status as a Global Level 4 Health Advisory country. This status indicates travel to a country should be avoided if possible. However, that advisory was lifted on Aug. 6, 2020. The U.S. is now a Global Level 3 Health Advisory country. 

“The beauty of virtual is we can roll those programs out whenever they’re ready. You don’t have to worry about packing, booking tickets, finding a place to stay and all of that,” 

If a student would prefer an in-person Education Abroad opportunity, Rong said that the Education Abroad office offers students the option to defer their study abroad to a different semester. 

“A lot of students who planned to go abroad in the fall and spring, we asked them to defer. Since it’s not a set academic curriculum, I hope they will come back next year unless they graduated,” Rong said. 

As for advice for students interested in Education Abroad, Rong said they should be optimistic but flexible. 

“What I would encourage all students to do is think positively, but prepare to be flexible. This pandemic is out there, and until the situation gets under control, it will be difficult for us to really say ‘yes, you can do this next year,’ or ‘no, you cannot do this.’ We just have to be flexible.” 

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