Vanderbilt waits to make decision on Fall study abroad

As the COVID-19 outbreak has caused some universities to cancel fall study abroad programs, Vanderbilt has yet to make a decision.


Emily Gonçalves

The Global Education Office, found next to Sarratt Box Office, has chosen to suspend all fall study abroad programs.

Rachel Friedman, Editor in Chief

The university has yet to make a decision regarding study abroad for Fall 2020, per a university spokesperson.

Many students studying abroad this semester returned home early due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Whether or not COVID-19 will also affect study abroad for the Fall semester had not been decided as of Thursday morning.

“The university continues to monitor public health guidelines and U.S. State Department guidance, and has not yet made a decision regarding fall study abroad,” a university spokesperson said in an email to The Hustler.

Some institutions like Emory University, Binghamton University and Harvey Mudd College have already cancelled Fall 2020 study abroad programs due to concerns regarding coronavirus. However, other schools like Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania have also not made decisions about their Fall programs.

Junior Emily Jordan still plans on studying abroad this fall in Florence, Italy through the CET program. While she registered for classes and housing just in case, she’s hopeful that she can still study in Florence this fall.

“I really, really want to go, and I don’t want this to hold anyone back from studying abroad,” she said.

Both Vanderbilt and CET have communicated well regarding updates and information about the fall program, she said. She got an email earlier this week from GEO telling students where to apply for their visas since they aren’t on campus anymore. The office has been very helpful answering her questions about the going abroad process, she said.

Sophomore Gaby Harder was planning on studying abroad in Copenhagen through the DIS program in the Fall but has since changed her mind. Harder said she is considering going abroad in Spring 2021 instead, but isn’t sure yet.

Harder said that she decided against studying abroad in the fall due to the spread of COVID-19 and the unclear timeline for when it will die down. She also said that after having to leave campus early this semester, she doesn’t want to further extend her time away from her friends.

The Global Education Office (GEO) at Vanderbilt and the DIS program have been vague regarding their plans for the fall, Harder said.

“Vanderbilt and GEO are continuing to monitor the situation very closely,” a March 10 email from GEO to students planning to go abroad in the fall read. “In the meantime, we want to reiterate previous communications that you should have a backup plan. Please register for on-campus courses and housing for the fall in case your program of choice becomes less desirable.”

Harder understands Vanderbilt’s decision to hold off on making a decision. It’s too far in advance to cancel all the study abroad programs, and a lot of the decision is based on the third-parties who administer the study abroad programs, Harder said.

“It’s hard because I would like more information, at least what they think could have happened because I don’t know if that would have changed my decision for the fall,” Harder said. “But at the same time, they don’t know what’s going to be happening in a month or two, so it’s hard to put that expectation on them.”