IUPUI Study Abroad Opportunities Still Up in the Air

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IUPUI students hoping to study abroad in 2021 should remain flexible in their plans and watch for updates from the Office of Overseas Study in the coming weeks.

In a Feb. 11 statement, the department encouraged students to postpone study abroad in the summer and fall semesters altogether if they are able, in order to “avoid incurring financial commitments.” The statement also directed students to have housing and an alternate course of study prepared in case their program does get canceled or delayed.

There is no strong indication of when Study Abroad programs will return to pre-pandemic availability. A Feb. 12 email to IU faculty from the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs detailed the difficulties the university faces in planning overseas study programs.

“Unfortunately, due to COVID-19-related health advisories, quarantines, and travel bans around the world, international mobility remains severely restricted,” the email said.

The bulletin advised faculty members that “Undergraduate study abroad programs are being reviewed individually, with consideration of local health conditions and on-the-ground support. We currently expect that only a limited number of programs will be cleared for student participation.”

Students hoping that a coronavirus vaccine shot will increase their chances of studying abroad this year must wait their turn.

The coronavirus vaccine rollout continues in the Hoosier state, but access to the shot is currently restricted to ages 65 and up. “Supply is the problem,” according to Dr. Aaron Carroll, a member of IU’s COVID-19 response team. In a Feb. 10 question and answer session, Carroll stated that Indiana currently does not “…even have enough vaccine…to get through [ages] 65 plus”.

Carroll went on to say that Indiana is limited regarding how much of the vaccine we receive from the government, but that our state has been effective in quickly distributing its supply of vaccine once received. He points to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracking website as evidence of our success.

“At this time IU has not made any determinations about requiring vaccines among the student population, including study abroad students,” said Stephanie Leslie, Director of Study Abroad at IUPUI.

In regard to specific study abroad programs that may be available this year, and which countries students may be eligible to travel to before others, Leslie said that “Future programming will depend on how the pandemic evolves in the coming months. At this time, it is not possible to predict when IU students will be able to travel without special restrictions or exemptions”.

Leslie says that IUPUI’s International Festival will take place virtually from February 22-26. This festival is “...a lively event for students, staff, faculty, and community members to celebrate the diversity of cultures at IUPUI and connect to international opportunities and resources”, according to the website.

Updates regarding study abroad can be found here.

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