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.

Winter, Spring, & Summer 2022

Program Status

Education abroad programs and international educational travel continue to be reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis in alignment with UK Administrative Regulation 4.9.

If your program is not approved or must be canceled due to COVID-related concerns, UK EA will notify you via your UK email.

Although UK EA makes every effort to offer programs in locations where travel is possible, the course of the pandemic is difficult to predict. We cannot guarantee that your program will run as planned.

If your program must unexpectedly be cancelled, there may be financial costs incurred that the University of Kentucky cannot recover on your behalf. For many programs, UK and/or the program provider must make arrangements and pre-pay expenses on behalf of student participants. This includes things like reserving accommodations, renting ground transportation, buying entrance tickets, etc.

The University of Kentucky assumes no financial responsibility or liability for any program changes and/or cancelations that happen due to COVID-19 and that could result in personal financial losses. Potential losses include but are not limited to expenses related to visa fees, housing contracts, airline fees, excursions or activities fees, and program provider fees.

If you choose to withdraw or your program is canceled, you can work with your EA Advisor to either defer to a later semester, find an alternative program, or withdraw your application. If your program is canceled, UK EA will refund all EA administrative fees to your UK student account.

Advising & Planning

Our advisors can meet with you either in person or virtually, depending on your preference. To find your EA Advisor and schedule an appointment, visit our website:  https://international.uky.edu/ea/meet-ukea-advisors.

Planning travel amidst travel suspensions

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, international travel rules and regulations are constantly changing. Many countries have restrictions for US travelers, potentially including testing and vaccine requirements, and/or quarantine. While we expect conditions to improve, it is important to be thoughtful and cautious about planning any future travel.

Financial Considerations

You should be aware that there may be additional COVID-19 travel-related expenses that you will be responsible for:

  1. Required COVID-19 test – $250.00 (estimated)

All air passengers entering the United States are currently required to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three (3) calendar days of departure, or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days.
You will be responsible for securing and paying for the correct viral COVID-19 test before your return to the United States. COVID-19 tests abroad are generally not free like they are on UK’s campus. The cost of your COVID-19 test could be up to $250.00 (but you should research the cost of this test in your destination country).

If your COVID-19 test results are positive, you will not be able to return to the US as scheduled and will have to remain in-country until you have met the negative test or COVID recovery entry requirement.

Additional information about COVID-19 re-entry testing is available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html

  1.  Potential additional housing and meal charges - $2,000 (estimated)

If you are required to remain in-country longer than your official program dates, you will be required to pay for your food, housing, and local transportation. UK EA will assist you in securing appropriate housing, but UK EA will not be able to help you pay for it. We estimate that you should budget $2000 to cover any unexpected, extended stay in-country.

  1.  Potential delayed flight costs - $500 (estimated) 

If your COVID-19 test results are positive, you will not be able to return home on your originally scheduled flight. You will have to work with the airline to secure a different flight. Some airlines may waive change fees; however, you may still be required to pay any difference in fare and potentially a change fee.

Trip Interruption/Cancellation Insurance

UK’s international travel medical insurance has limited coverage for trip cancellation or trip interruption. If you are unable to return as scheduled due to a positive COVID-19 test result, please contact Director of International Health, Safety & Security Jason Hope (jasonhope@uky.edu) to determine if any of your expenses may be eligible for reimbursement under this policy. You should not rely on UK’s insurance policy to cover all COVID-related expenses.

COVID-19 Vaccinations

The University of Kentucky strongly recommends that you be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before your program departure date. Different countries have different vaccination requirements for entry, and some may require proof of vaccination to access restaurants, cultural sites, and other areas. Additionally, your program provider or host university may have vaccine requirements of its own. It is your responsibility to understand these requirements and to ensure that you can fully participate on your program.

As a reminder, if you have already received a COVID-19 vaccine you may still carry the virus, so it is important that you continue to take precautions to avoid infection. Becoming infected, even after you have been vaccinated, may allow you to transmit the virus to vulnerable individuals.

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 may be required.

Currently, the U.S. Department of State 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. Department of State’s normal operations resume, you can submit your application.

Airline tickets

First, 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 of 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.
  • 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 effective ways to stay up to date.

Visas

You must determine if you need a visa for your program prior to traveling. Every country’s embassy has a website containing info regarding student visas. If you are applying with a provider, they also may have information whether you will need a visa and the process to apply.

Due to the pandemic, there may be delays in processing student visa applications.

COVID PRE-DEPARTURE GUIDELINE

UK International Health, Safety and Security Program Review

EA programs are being reviewed and approved by the University’s International Health, Safety & Security (IHSS) Committee. We have developed the following FAQ to answer some key questions you may have about this process.

  • Why does my program have to be reviewed and approved by a committee?
    • The University of Kentucky requires that all student educational travel in countries where the U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 3 or Level 4 advisory be reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis. All international educational travel is currently being reviewed because advisory levels are changing regularly.
  • Is this a new process? Who created it?
    • 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.
  • When will my program be reviewed?
    • Many programs have already been reviewed, and we continue to review programs on a regular basis. We also continue to monitor the course of the pandemic, so approval decisions may always be revisited if conditions worsen in the host country.
  • Who is on this committee?
    • 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 individuals 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.
  • Who ultimately decides whether to approve a program?
    • The committee makes a recommendation to the Associate Provost for Internationalization. She and the Provost make the final decision.
  • How does the committee decide whether to approve a program?
    • The committee uses a variety of data points in considering whether to approve a program. We primarily focus on the support that a provider or exchange institution can offer students in the context of the pandemic in the destination country. Faculty-directed programs may also be evaluated based on their proposed itineraries, provider support, and the trajectory of the pandemic at their destination.
  • Are other universities doing the same thing?
    • 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.
  • If my program is approved, does that mean I can definitely go?
    • 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 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 up-to-date information available to us in making decisions, the pandemic is very unpredictable, and you will need to be comfortable with a certain level of ambiguity to move through this process.
  • I want to provide the review committee with a letter or other personal statement to support my application. Can I do that?
    • Yes, you can. However, programs are being approved on a program-by-program basis, not on an individual student basis.
  • I want to appeal the committee’s decision. How do I do that?
    • The university’s policy is that students may not conduct educational travel in countries with the U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 3 or Level 4 advisory. The committee review is to determine whether an exception to that policy may be granted. If the committee determines that it cannot, no further appeal is possible.
  • UK decided not to approve my program, but my provider organization is still moving forward. What if I go anyway?
    • 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.

University of Kentucky response and FAQs