UKIC / Education Abroad & Exchanges / COVID-19

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As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic together, University of Kentucky Education Abroad & Exchanges is here for you. We’re committed to keeping you informed and will continue to do everything in our power to minimize the impact of this challenging situation.  We are striving to seek new avenues to ensure that our students have every opportunity to become better, more connected global citizens. This page will keep you updated on what steps are being taken and how UK EA is responding.

Prioritizing Health & Safety

University of Kentucky is continuing to monitor developments related to COVID-19 around the world.

UK Education Abroad & Exchanges is in regular contact with our partners abroad, our program providers and other US institutions and our office has an established international crisis management protocol that we follow. So, we want to assure you that decisions regarding education abroad programs are made with the health and safety of you, our students, at the forefront.

Summer, Fall, Academic Year 2021

COVID PRE-DEPARTURE GUIDELINE

Program Status

Currently, University of Kentucky has suspended international travel, including education abroad programs. While we do not know when travel restrictions will be lifted, we remain hopeful but realistic about what needs to happen in time to allow programs to proceed as planned. 

UK EA will be making decisions regarding the feasibility of programs before you are required to pay nonrefundable deposits or program fees.

If your program will not proceed, UK EA will notify you via email, so please check your UK email regularly. We will also update this page with any new information as it becomes available.  

If you are not able to participate or your program is canceled, you can work with your EA Advisor to either defer to a later semester, find an alternative program, or cancel your application. If your program is canceled by UK, UK EA will refund all EA administrative fees to you. 

Advising & Planning

UKEA continues to provide advising and support for all UK students who are interested in studying abroad or participating in a virtual program.

EA advising appointments are now held exclusively on Zoom. To find your EA Advisor and schedule an appointment, visit our website:  https://international.uky.edu/ea/meet-ukea-advisors.

Once you have chosen a day and a time to meet with your advisor through UK EA’s appointment portal, you will receive an automatic email and calendar invite for the scheduled meeting. A Zoom meeting invitation will then be sent in a follow-up email from your EA Advisor. If accommodations are required for the advising appointment, please let your EA Advisor know as soon as possible.

Planning travel amidst travel suspensions

During the COVID-19 pandemic, international travel rules and regulations are constantly changing. While we expect conditions to improve, it is important to be thoughtful and cautious about planning any sort of future travel.

Passports

If you already have a passport, be sure to check when your passport expires. Many countries require it to be valid six months past your return date to the US, although more validity might be required.

Currently, the U.S. State Department is experiencing significant delays in processing new and renewed passports. For the most up-to-date information, please see the US State Department’s Passport website.

If you do not have a passport yet or need to renew your passport, make sure you have all  application requirements ready to go, including the application form, your photo, important documents and your payment of fees, so that when the U.S. State Department’s normal operations resume, you can submit your application.

Airline tickets

Firstly, it is important for you to follow any guidance provided to you by your EA Advisor, program provider, host institution, or program director about purchasing a plane ticket. Do not purchase a plane ticket until you are instructed to do so. Secondly, here are some key things to consider:

  • Make sure to stay informed on current travel restrictions. The best sources for this information are the U.S. State Department’s Travel Advisory page and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Traveler page.
  • Research your selected airline’s cancellation and ticket change policies before purchasing a ticket. Please know that different airlines will have varying policies. We’ve found this Tripadvisor blog post to be particularly helpful.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance with your ticket. This may protect against any unforeseen changes in your travel plans and is highly recommended.
  • Remember to stay informed. Changes in international travel can happen quickly. Signing up for notifications from your airline, watching or reading the news, and communicating with your EA Advisor or program provider about your travel plans are all good ways to stay up-to-date.

Visas

First, you need to determine if you need a visa for your program and if you need to get it prior to traveling. Every country’s embassy has a website, and information about student visas can be found there. If you are applying with a provider, they also may have information whether you will need a visa and the process to apply.

Currently, many consulates and embassies are not processing visas for students. As conditions around the world change, different countries will begin to resume normal visa processing in varying ways on varying timelines. It is necessary to check embassy websites regularly for updates. If you do need a visa, UK EA recommends that you research and gather the application requirements and be ready to apply as soon as the consulates begin accepting visa applications. 

Registering for backup courses at UKY

While we do not know when the travel suspension will be lifted, we remain hopeful that things will improve in time to allow your program to proceed as planned. However, in the meantime, we do recommend that when your course registration window opens, you should register for classes at UK in case your EA program is canceled. You can drop these courses once your EA program is confirmed. Information about registration windows and add/drop deadlines can be found on the UK Registrar’s website.

Education Abroad Student FAQs on IHSS Review

  1. Why does my program have to be reviewed and approved by a committee?
    1. In March 2020, President Capilouto suspended all international travel at UK. As of now, no student can travel internationally for UK reasons – even faculty and staff are not allowed to travel internationally. The review process allows exceptions to be made to this policy.
  2. Is this a new process? Who created it?
    1. No- this committee has existed for many years. It was created by an administrative regulation approved by the university president. The committee has always reviewed student travel petitions to high-risk destinations, where travel is generally prohibited by UK’s travel policy. However, because all international travel has been suspended at UK by President Capilouto, it is now reviewing all EA programs.
  3. When will my program be reviewed?
    1. We will review programs and make decisions as close to their financial deadlines as possible. This gives us as long as possible to consider the trajectory of the pandemic in the host country.
  4. Who is on this committee?
    1. The chair of the committee is the Director of International Health, Safety and Security, and there are 13 other members. These include faculty members from different colleges, academic staff, and people from UK risk management, legal counsel and the Dean of Students office. One of UK’s leading infectious disease experts is also part of the review committee.
  5. Who ultimately decides whether to approve a program?
    1. The committee makes a recommendation to the Associate Provost for Internationalization. She and the Provost make the final decision.
  6. How does the committee decide whether to approve a program?
    1. The decision-making process is informed by the most recent data about the pandemic that is available to us. These include:
      1. The rate of growth in the number of new COVID cases in the host country
      2. Projections of what cases in the host country will look like in the future, using the same models that the US government uses
      3. Projections of the strain that will be put on the host country’s medical infrastructure based on the rate of new cases
      4. The test positivity rate in the host country
      5. The quality and availability of testing and medical care in the host country
      6. The steps that the provider organization or exchange university have put in place to mitigate the risks associated with the pandemic

We compare these metrics to the same metrics in the US and in Kentucky, to see what the relative risk in the host country is. The committee also considers the latest travel advisories relevant to the host country issued by the US Department of State and the US Centers for Disease Control. The Director of International Health, Safety & Security makes a preliminary recommendation to the committee for program approval, based on these data and, in some cases, after benchmarking with other universities. The committee discusses the recommendation, and then gives their final recommendation to the Associate Provost for Internationalization.

  1. Are other universities doing the same thing?
    1. We regularly benchmark how peer institutions are managing their education abroad programs. Some have cancelled education abroad activities entirely, while others are following a process similar to UK's.
  2. If my program is approved, does that mean I can definitely go?
    1. All programs are approved provisionally. This means that if the pandemic significantly worsens in the host country, or other risk factors come into play, UK could later rescind its approval. There are things outside of our control that could happen and prevent you from ultimately participating - for example, your host country could close its borders to US travelers, or change its visa policy, which could make it impossible for you to participate. Your program provider may also cancel the program unilaterally, even at the last minute. Although we use the most recent data available to us in making decisions, the pandemic is very unpredictable, and you will need to be comfortable with a certain level of ambiguity in order to move through this process.
  3. I want to provide the review committee with a letter or other personal statement to support my application. Can I do that?
    1. Yes, you can. However, programs are being approved on a program-by-program basis, not on an individual student basis.
  4. I want to appeal the committee’s decision. How do I do that?
    1. The committee’s review is the appeal process- UK’s current policy is that no student may travel internationally, so the review is to determine whether an exception can be made to that policy. No additional appeal is possible.
  5. UK decided not to approve my program, but my provider organization is still moving forward. What if I go anyway?
    1. You cannot participate on the program as a UK student if UK does not approve your program. If you participate on a program that is not approved by the university, you will not be enrolled for credit at UK during the time you’re abroad, you will not be eligible to use financial aid or scholarships for your program, and you will not have any support from UK while you are abroad.

 

Previous Semesters

SPRING 2021

Program Status

Currently, University of Kentucky has suspended international travel, including education abroad programs. While we do not know when travel restrictions will be lifted, we remain hopeful but realistic about what needs to happen in time to allow spring programs to proceed as planned. Therefore, we are currently NOT accepting new applications for spring 2021. However, if you have a compelling reason to participate in a spring 2021 program, please contact your EA Advisor

UK EA will be making decisions regarding the feasibility of spring programs before you are required to pay nonrefundable deposits or program fees.

If your spring program will not proceed, UK EA will notify you via email, so please check your UK email regularly. We will also update this page with any new information as it becomes available.  

If you are not able to participate or your program is canceled, you can work with your EA Advisor to either defer to a later semester, find an alternative program, or cancel your application. If your program is canceled by UK, UK EA will refund all EA administrative fees to you. 

 

FALL 2020 & WINTER 2021

Program Status

Currently, University of Kentucky has suspended international travel, including education abroad programs. EA refunded all administrative fees charged by our office for anyone whose program had to be canceled.  

If you have questions regarding refunds for program fees paid directly to you your program provider, please contact your program provider directly. Each provider maintains their own policies for canceling their programs in light of the pandemic. Visit your provider’s website for the latest information. 

University of Kentucky response and FAQs

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