Virginia Tech cancels study abroad programs for fall semester as precaution during COVID-19 pandemic
June 17, 2020
With the safety, health, and well-being of our students and faculty as our highest priority, Virginia Tech is canceling all fall 2020 study abroad programs because of ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating global impact.
The Global Education Office, part of Outreach and International Affairs, sent an email to all affected students on Wednesday.
“Virginia Tech remains committed to providing transformational learning experiences that help our students become global leaders and problem-solvers,” said Donald Hempson, associate vice president for international affairs. “Our decision to cancel all outbound study abroad programs this fall follows the university’s holistic, principles-based approach and was not one we’ve taken lightly. Although it is impossible to predict the course of the pandemic in the coming months, we look forward to resuming these important programs as soon as possible.”
The announcement follows the approval by Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke on Wednesday of the unanimous recommendation of the Global Travel Oversight Committee to cancel fall study abroad programs. Chaired by Hempson, this committee of faculty and administrative personnel from key units across the university is charged with reviewing Virginia Tech’s trips abroad to locations with heightened levels of security and/or medical concerns.
Committee members considered a number of factors, including student health and safety, evolving travel advisories from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. State Department, and the difficulty of obtaining visas. Currently, the CDC cautions against nonessential travel, and the State Department has issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory, which recommends that Americans avoid all international travel due to COVID-19.
“We made this decision now to ensure that all students who’d been planning to participate in a study abroad program have time to make the necessary adjustments to their on-campus schedules and make plans for housing in Blacksburg,” Hempson said.
The decision, he said, includes all programming at the Steger Center for International Scholarship in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland. The center is the university’s European academic center and base for operations and support of its programs in the region.
Due to the rapidly evolving nature of the pandemic and its implications for health and safety and for travel, Virginia Tech will continue to monitor the situation before making any determinations about study abroad for winter or spring 2021.
A full set of FAQs about the cancellation of fall 2020 study abroad programs is available on the Global Education Office website.