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Study Abroad Guidelines in Response to COVID-19

 

UTA continues to monitor the worldwide developments of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on international programs. The University remains committed to keeping health and safety at the forefront and adhering to University standards for quality academic experiences abroad.
 
The University has approved to plan for the resumption of study abroad travel for May and Summer 2021 programs and beyond.  While planning and recruitment can proceed, please be advised of the following requirements and considerations for study abroad programs.
 
 
International Oversight Committee (IOC) Review and Decision Timeline
IOC travel requests are required for all study abroad programs and will be reviewed approximately 60 days prior to the program start date.  Students applying for exchange and affiliated programs will submit individual travel requests; faculty-led program leaders will submit a group travel request to the IOC on behalf of all program participants.
 
In addition to considering specific program details and arrangements, study abroad travel approval decisions will be made based on a variety of factors including:
 
  • Guidance from relevant authorities, such as UT System, CDC, and US Department of State;
  • Current COVID-19 conditions in the host country (increasing/decreasing case numbers);
  • The ability for travelers from the US to enter the host country, including securing passports and visas;
  • COVID-19 protocols for visitors to the host country, such as requirements for self-isolation/self-quarantine;
  • Infrastructure and capacity of the healthcare system in the host country, including the availability of resources and testing;
  • Accessibility of the host country’s healthcare system;
  • Ability to depart the host country promptly should evacuation be necessary;
  • Restrictions in place for returning to the US, such as requirements for self-isolation/self-quarantine; and
  • Academic and financial risks to students if programs need to cancel later. 
Each study abroad program travel request will be independently reviewed using the timeline and criteria noted above.
 
Due to the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, this IOC review timeline and travel approval decisions are subject to change.  Programs approved to travel may still be subject to suspension before the scheduled departure, or participants may be recalled while abroad. 
 
 
Program Details
Participants must comply with all COVID-19 protocols in the host country, such as guidelines on social distancing, masking, gathering, and movement within the host country. 
 
Special attention should be paid to housing and transportation plans with alternatives in place should there be need for isolation/quarantine or other adjustments due to possible exposure to COVID-19; detailed information regarding these arrangements should be provided as part of the IOC travel request.
 
Participants are responsible for obtaining appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the duration of their program.  This includes masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, thermometer, etc. in order to meet host country requirements. 
 
Travel outside of the host country is discouraged due to evolving entry/exit requirements between countries.
 
 
Financial Commitments
Participants are encouraged to take the timeline outlined above into consideration when choosing to proceed with a program’s application and payment deadlines.  Many programs are allowing additional flexibility regarding deadlines and financial commitments due to COVID-19.  However, there may be some deadlines or payments required prior to UTA approving a particular program or student’s participation.  Participants must decide whether to assume the financial risk of continuing with the intended program under the current circumstances; UTA is not able to reimburse for any financial loss incurred because of payments required by the host program.  
 
The $75 Study Abroad Application Fee is non-refundable, even if the program is cancelled or the student’s participation is not approved.  However, if the student re-applies to study abroad for a future term, the second program application fee will be waived.  Reimbursement of program deposits and program fees are the discretion of the program provider, sponsoring college, school, department, or unit.
 
All program participants are further advised against making travel arrangements or purchasing flights until the program has been approved by UTA.  Participants are also strongly encouraged to purchase refundable or flexible airline tickets and/or supplemental “cancel for any reason” or “interrupt for any reason” travel insurance to safeguard against losses or penalties associated with withdrawal or future program cancellation.  UTA assumes no responsibility for such losses or penalties.
 
 
Required UT System Insurance Coverage
All students participating in a UTA Study Abroad program are required to enroll in the System-mandated insurance policy.  This policy is currently underwritten by ACE/Chubb and coordinated with International SOS as the emergency services provider.
 
The current policy brochure is available online, but in summary, COVID-related expenses covered by this policy include:
  • Medical expenses if student needs treatment for COVID-19 while on the study abroad program
  • Testing for COVID-19 if symptomatic
  • Medical evacuation
  • Mental health counseling 
The insurance does NOT cover:
  • Evacuation costs if student is required to come home because of COVID-19.  This includes airline change fees, cancelled tickets, lodging, etc.  Note – if a student needs to be medically evacuated, that is still covered.
  • Quarantine for COVID-19
  • Routine care, which includes testing for COVID-19 if it is an entry requirement and student does not have symptoms 
Students are strongly encouraged to maintain their US health insurance while they are abroad in case they are required to return before their program is over for any reason, such as a medical emergency.  International students should also be aware they may need to retain US health insurance for visa and immigration purposes.
 
 
Personal Risk Assessment
UTA recognizes the important role international travel plays in developing a global perspective and is committed to the safety and well-being of its students, faculty, and staff when choosing to participate in these activities. 
 
It is the responsibility of the traveler to evaluate their own personal risk and determine if they choose to participate in the intended study abroad program.   Travelers with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and should carefully consider whether international travel is advisable at this time.
 
 
Participant Expectations
Studying abroad at this time poses new and different challenges.  Students should carefully evaluate their willingness and ability to comply with evolving requirements for program participation. Students must be fully prepared to remain aware of the changing situation in the host country, and agree to take responsibility to ensure that they are acting in accordance with the rules, regulations, and recommendations of the host communities.
 
Those unable or unwilling to comply with host country guidelines and program rules and requirements may want to consider studying abroad at another time.  Failure to abide by any of the rules that are in place when on a UTA Study Abroad program will be grounds for dismissal from the program.  No refund would be available if dismissed.  Failure to abide by local regulations may result in fines, arrest, deportation, or a combination of these. 
 
Additional participant expectations while studying abroad during an ongoing pandemic are noted in the “Participant Expectations” document included with the UTA Study Abroad application online.
 

We are Here to Help
UTA Study Abroad remains available to help students applying to study abroad in this time of increased uncertainties.  Here’s how to connect with our team:
 
Schedule a virtual advising appointment online
Email studyabroad@uta.edu
Attend an upcoming event
Watch our “Study Abroad 101” video