UC Berkeley, UC systemwide study abroad programs offer alternatives amid spring 2021 suspensions

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According to UC Education Abroad Program spokesperson Myla Edmond, programs with a start date before March 15 were suspended as a result of COVID-19 health concerns and related international travel policies, such as closed borders and quarantine requirements. (Photo by Xlibber under CC BY 2.0.)

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After the UC Education Abroad Program, or UCEAP, suspended most of its spring 2021 programming in August, students who were hoping to study abroad through the program will have to find alternative spring plans.

According to UCEAP spokesperson Myla Edmond, programs with a start date before March 15 were suspended as a result of COVID-19 health concerns and related international travel policies, such as closed borders and quarantine requirements. Diane Marcus, Summer Sessions and Berkeley Study Abroad, or BSA, chief marketing officer, added that UC Berkeley students will not be able to transfer their applications to a late-start spring program.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present challenges related to health concerns and international travel,” Edmond said in an email. “We understand the disappointment and share in it, but concerns surrounding international travel led us to make the difficult yet responsible decision to suspend spring programming.”

According to a letter from Vivian-Lee Nyitray, UCEAP associate vice provost and executive director, about 20 programs with a late start date are still scheduled to run in spring, which means students on campuses using the quarter system still have an opportunity to study abroad for the spring quarter.

Marcus said UC Berkeley students, however, could not reapply to these late-start spring programs. She added that the BSA website will be updated by late fall 2020 with opportunities for programs starting in summer 2021 and later.

“We are deeply concerned that as COVID-19 conditions persist, it is very possible that programs with a later spring 2021 start date will also be impacted and subsequently suspended in the coming months,” Marcus said in an email.

Marcus encouraged students in suspended programs to enroll in campus coursework for the spring semester. She added that those students are eligible to register for classes during Phase 1 and 2 without any additional action.

For students who were planning on fulfilling language or other requirements through study abroad, Edmond suggested enrolling in alternative programs or studying abroad at a later time, if possible.

UCEAP will offer virtual internships starting in summer 2021. According to Edmond, students can boost their career profile, build an international professional network and gain professional experience, all while staying local.

Internships will be available on the UCEAP website by October and students will be placed in career fields according to their academic focus.

“Berkeley Study Abroad recognizes this news may be extremely disappointing, and bring up feelings of frustration and sadness,” Marcus said in an email. “BSA is here to support students during this challenging time, and encourages them to reach out to us with questions or concerns.”

She added that students can find support through UC Berkeley’s Counseling and Psychological Services.

Contact Maria Young at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @maria_myoung.