With each passing week, another sign of normalcy emerges for Boston University, as the COVID-19 pandemic draws to a close, the latest being the return of study abroad programs this fall after more than a year of suspension.
It was in March 2020, when it was evident that the coronavirus was spreading rapidly around the world, that Willis Wang, vice president and vice president of global programs, and his team were in a mad rush to bring back to the home to over 1,000 students from various overseas programs as travel restrictions were put in place to contain the spread of the virus.
In a recent letter to students, Wang wrote, “We are delighted to be able to confirm that the University has given formal approval to continue our fall study abroad program, provided that all students must Comply with BU’s vaccination policy, under which students must be vaccinated unless they meet an accepted exemption and fulfill a COVID travel promise. Thank you for your patience throughout the pre-departure phase.
Wang says that the requirement that BU students be vaccinated in order to return to campus this fall was a key factor, among many, in the university’s decision to bring study programs back to the foreign. After the suspension of the Spring 2020 programs, the Summer and Fall 2020 programs, and then the Spring and Summer 2021 programs, were canceled.
BU today caught up with Wang to learn more about returning to Study Abroad. Note: Applications are no longer being accepted for fall semester 2021 programs.
With Willis Wang
BU today: First, what study abroad programs will resume this fall?
Willis Wang: Boston University’s Fall 2021 programs will take place at our BU-operated sites in Dublin, Geneva, London, Madrid, Padua, Paris, Venice, LA and Washington, DC, in accordance with the vaccination policy of University for students studying in Boston this fall. We will also be able to organize two exchange programs, one in Copenhagen, at the University of Copenhagen, and the other in Milan, at Bocconi University.
What were some of the deciding factors in opening these programs, but not others?
In addition to expecting students to be immunized, several other criteria were used to determine the ability to safely operate our fall programs. These included site-specific COVID issues, such as the steady and continuing decrease in COVID-19 cases, increasing vaccination rates, continuing decline in hospitalization rates, availability of tests, ability to quarantine and safely isolate students if necessary, border entry requirements and CDC / State Department travel advisories and our ability to deliver our academic programs and maintain quality of our students’ experience (e.g. obtaining visas, entering the country and meeting local testing and quarantine requirements).
Is there a deadline for all of the BU’s programs abroad to be finally reactivated?
There is no precise timeframe, as it significantly depends on several site-specific factors. We intend to continue all programs where possible and depending on local COVID situations. All of our students, faculty and staff look forward to meeting students in person and immersing themselves in their studies in an environment different from what they are used to, which is an extremely important aspect of studying away from your main campus. .
If students are enrolled in one of the recently reopened programs, what should they start doing now?
Students should be in close contact with their study abroad program manager and academic advisers. They should also plan to get the vaccine if they haven’t already, in addition to working with their program managers on the best flight options, visa applications, and any other program-specific requirements.
They should also plan to have a wonderful and meaningful experience!
You can find more information about the BU Fall 2021 study abroad programs and FAQs here.
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