Study Programming for the Spring 2021 semester at Harvard College will be cancelled due to concerns over students’ safety and travel restrictions imposed worldwide as a result of COVID-19 pandemic spread, Harvard’s Office of International Education (OIE) announced on Friday.
According to the announcement, the virtual study abroad programming will not enable credit options for Harvard’s students. The decision does not apply to students enrolled in local universities who are unable to leave their houses, Erudera College News reports.
The Director of the OIE Camila L. Nardozzi stated that the decision was taken after several discussions with Harvard’s Office of Global Support Services, Provost Alan M. Garber ’76, and the Office of Undergraduate Education.
“We’ve been watching the public health situation for months and months, since the start of all of this. Unfortunately, things worldwide haven’t progressed in the way that I think, globally, we would have hoped they would,” she said.
Whereas, students who had to submit applications to international universities expressed indignation over this decision which came one day after the deadline.
Kyle D. O’Connor ’22, who submitted his applications in education institutions in Scotland, Australia and England in a bid to spend the spring semester abroad, was very surprised upon hearing of the decision. He told The Harvard Crimson that he has already paid the necessary fees for transcripts and received the recommendation letters. According to him, OIE hurried on taking this decision.
“So, this comes as quite a shock, especially when they did it. I think it was a hasty decision; it was too early of a decision to make.”
Nardozzi responded to students claiming that the decision of Harvard on cancelling the program was taken in compliance with Garber’s office guidelines on August 20, which imposed restrictions on university-sponsored domestic and international travel.
After taking into account the recommendations by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on avoiding travelling as it increases the chances to get infected or spread the COVID-19 virus, Harvard expressed its commitment on preventing COVID-19 spread.
Usually, 100 – 120 students attend the study abroad program. Nardozzi said she hopes the numbers will not change after the pandemic.
“International experiences, such as semester and summer study abroad, are incredibly important to students’ academic development, personal development, and academic development. And until those experiences are cancelled, those experiences should continue to be discussed,” Nardozzi said.