Less than a month after colleges nationwide canceled in-person classes for the remainder of the spring semester and as many colleges are now doing the same for all summer courses, a handful of colleges are already canceling study abroad programs scheduled for this fall, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

San Diego State University, Emory University, Binghamton University, Harvey Mudd College, Trinity University, and the University of Pittsburgh have all announced they will not go forward with some or all of their fall 2020 study abroad programs.

In a message to students, Emory University said it made the “difficult and disappointing” decision to cancel fall study abroad programs “based on the health and safety concerns associated with global and domestic travel and the uncertainty of conditions in various countries abroad.”

“These considerations are also combined with concerns about the stability and resilience of the sponsoring organizations responsible for providing a quality experience that would allow students to achieve their academic and personal goals,” the university continued.

Similarly, San Diego State University announced Monday in an email to students it too would cancel 2020 study abroad exchange programs “given the long-term uncertainty associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as well as the indeterminate status of federal and local agencies whose operations support exchange and study abroad students.” SDSU spokesman Cory Marshall noted to Campus Reform this does not include all study abroad programs, only exchange programs.

Binghamton University, in its announcement canceling the fall study abroad program, said that doing so early provides benefits to students.

“Making this decision now provides students with clear guidance for the fall semester. Equally important, this decision ensures that students have time to complete their fall 2020 course registration and possibly prevent any losses associated with nonrefundable expenses,” BU said.

Harvey Mudd College, Trinity University, and the University of Pittsburgh have all taken similar steps to cancel fall 2020 study abroad programs.

Meanwhile, other universities across the country are debating whether to follow suit. Some in academic circles are even looking at “stay at home” study abroad programs, as CNBC reported.

These developments come as some universities, including Harvard University, are also debating whether to allow students to return to campus here in the U.S. for fall semester courses or keep all courses online for yet another semester.


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