On June 15, students who were planning to study abroad received an email notification that all study abroad programs planned for the fall 2020 semester had been cancelled due to growing concerns regarding COVID-19.
The announcement affected the fall operations of nine Wake Forest-sponsored programs and 20 affiliate programs, some of which are offering students the option to defer enrollment to the spring semester of 2021 in the hopes that the global situation improves by then.
“Circumstances permitting, our plan is to offer a full slate of study abroad programs for the Spring 2021 semester,” said David Taylor, the assistant Dean for Global Study Away. “As such, applications are currently being accepted and study abroad advisers are available throughout the summer and fall to speak with students.”
If students cannot defer their enrollment, then the $500 tuition deposit will be refunded by the Center for Global Programs and Studies.
For those who are unable to study abroad at a later point or who are still reeling from the emotional impact of the announcement, the university recognized the difficulty of the decision and reaffirmed its commitment to prioritizing students’ health and wellbeing.
“We realize you have been looking forward to studying abroad and the news we are sharing will be a great disappointment,” said Kline Harrison, the associate provost for Global Affairs, in an email. “However, your health and safety are of utmost importance to all of us, as are the depth and quality of your international study experience.”
While the news was disappointing to many students, it was not necessarily unexpected.
In fact, an increasing number of students had previously decided to withdraw from study abroad programs out of concern about the spread of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of global travel during a pandemic. Out of approximately 600 students originally intending to study abroad in the fall, only 250 students were still considering the programs when the cancellations were announced, according to Harrison.
Additionally, over 60% of the remaining 250 students still considering study abroad had already registered for classes on the Reynolda campus as a backup plan in the event that this announcement cancelling study abroad programs was issued.
The remaining students who had not registered for classes will be able to consult their faculty advisors for guidance in creating and adjusting their schedules for the fall semester. All students will be able to choose courses from a list including in-person, blended and virtual options, which will be finalized by July 15.
Additionally, all students whose abroad programs were cancelled will be studying on the Reynolda campus in the fall, which could overwhelm the university’s current on-campus housing capacity. To address these growing concerns about housing availability, the university has indicated that more off-campus housing locations have been obtained and that some students might be released from the three-year housing requirement. The final plan for university housing will be announced by Residence Life & Housing on or before June 30.