Walter International Education Center

Ohio University’s Walter International Education Center, which houses the OU Office of Global Opportunities. Photo by Ben Peters.

Ohio University last week canceled all study abroad and away programs and travel experiences that were previously scheduled for the upcoming fall semester in response to the nationwide increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.

The university said in an email sent to all students who anticipated studying away from campus that Gov. Mike DeWine’s and The Ohio Department of Health’s guidelines for re-opening higher education institutions influenced its decision to halt study away programs.

The state’s guidelines on study abroad and international travel require campuses to “comply with all relevant state, CDC and State Department guidelines.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that universities “consider postponing or cancelling student international travel programs.”

“We realize some of you will be frustrated with this news while others may feel relieved considering recent news reports. In either case, we are very disappointed that you are not able to complete your time off campus as planned,” the university email reads.

“As much as we regret disrupting what I am sure is a wonderful educational and cultural opportunity, please know that the University values the safety and well-being of its students above all else, and those values have led our decision.”

Some programs, however, may offer students a virtual experience to substitute travel. The OU Office of Global Opportunities is exploring that option for students who enrolled in the “OHIO-in-LA” program.

“This option would not replace the rich experience you would have had onsite, but it will offer you a taste of LA while still completing relevant coursework,” according to an email sent to all students enrolled in the Los Angeles study away program.

Those whose programs don’t offer the possibility of virtual alternatives, or those who don’t wish to participate in the proposed online experiences, will receive a refund in their student account of any deposits put toward a program.

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