The University of New Hampshire (UNH) announced the cancellation of summer and fall 2021 education abroad.
The university cited uncertainty regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine rollout, the emergence of new variants, current restrictions on U.S. travel, and the U.S. Department of State rating most countries at the highest risk levels as reasons behind this decision. Students now have the opportunity to petition to override this decision on a case-by-case basis, making extenuating education abroad experiences potentially a possibility.
The decision was made by the UNH Global office and the Education Abroad team, which is part of Academic Affairs. To make this decision, “we worked closely with Katherine Ziemer, Senior Vice Provost of Academic Affairs, and Wayne Jones, Provost and VP of Academic Affairs,” said Leonie Meijer, the interim director of education abroad.
“We thought it would be important to be transparent and send this message at the beginning of the semester, so that students can plan accordingly,” said Meijer.
According to a tracker from CNN Health as of Feb. 3 there have been 104,142,856 cases of the COVID-19 across the world. There are currently 25,918,722 active cases. The majority of countries UNH students typically travel to, such as Italy and the United Kingdom, are at a Level 3, or “reconsider travel,” restriction from the U.S. Department of State.
Students are able to petition to the International Travel Risk Review Committee (ITRRC) for approval of education abroad experiences. “Examples of possible exceptions are travel to a country that permits entry for study or internships and exchanges accepting U.S. students,” the statement said. The ITRRC process may take 6 to 8 weeks and must include a proposal, emergency plan, letter of endorsement, letter of admission, and letter of endorsement from the dean.
Meijer recommended domestic opportunities to students who wished to travel abroad but are not able to because of this cancelation of study abroad programs. Study away programs like the National Student Exchange, The Washington Center, and Semester in the City will still be offered during the summer and fall of 2021.
“We wish the situation was different. It is difficult to have to make a decision like this, because we know how eager students are to study abroad…however, health and safety must come first,” said Meijer.
Photo courtesy of the University of New Hampshire