Boston University Study Abroad is canceling all of its international and domestic trips and the majority of its programming for Spring 2021 due to pandemic-related concerns, according to a Thursday email from Study Abroad Executive Director Gareth McFeely.
Students who were accepted to select internship programs will be eligible to participate in a remote internship experience, McFeely said in a phone call. All students who have submitted their program deposit of $450 will receive a refund credited to their student account.
The companies that are able to offer remote internships largely depends on the area of study, McFeely said, and positions are limited.
“You’re going to see more internships in sectors that better lend themselves to remote working,” McFeely said. “For example, it will be a lot more difficult, or possibly impossible, to offer internships in something like the health sector, where you might normally have contacts with patients.”
In addition to remote internships, McFeely said there is potential for a “handful” of remote courses — traditionally taught abroad and still to be taught virtually by professors overseas next semester — that may be added to the Spring 2021 roster. Any undergraduates who have taken the proper prerequisites may register for the courses.
These are the only courses, McFeeley added, that will be offered from Study Abroad next semester.
The decision, McFeely said, was made as a result of travel restrictions brought on by the pandemic, as well as the safety risks that come with carrying out Study Abroad this semester. He added the Office wanted to do what was best for its students and programs.
“Unfortunately, it hasn’t been great at any point since March,” McFeely said. “But it really seems to have taken a pretty steep downward trajectory over the last few weeks in most of the locations where we operate in Europe.”
In Australia, where positive case numbers for the coronavirus have been lower, McFeely said, BU’s partner university will not allow students from abroad. Getting into the country is difficult, too, because of travel restrictions.
A $55 application fee reimbursement will be granted upon request, the email states. Students can also choose to defer the payment to a Summer or Fall 2021 Study Abroad application.
The University has not yet made a decision on whether Summer 2021 Study Abroad programs will happen, McFeely said, but he is hopeful.
McFeely said Study Abroad does not currently anticipate any layoffs, furloughs or staffing changes.
BU spokesperson Colin Riley said the University plans to work with students whose trips were canceled to ensure they can take their required courses.
“We need to offer the classes that would be alternatives to what they would be studying,” Riley said, “make sure that they’re able to continue to stay on course with their major, and make sure we have the course offerings that they will need as they matriculate.”
Study abroad cancellations are happening at other universities across the country, he added.
“Everyone’s lives are disrupted,” Riley said, “but this is a particularly challenging thing for students who are going through a four-year undergraduate program, where they anticipated and look forward to the opportunity to study abroad.”