The Office of Off-Campus Study (OCS) is allowing 29 students to study away next semester, significantly more than the five that did so this fall, but small in comparison to the 130 to 160 students that study away in a typical semester.
“Many programs have [been] canceled, so some of the programs that students had been slated to study abroad on simply were not possible to attend,” Christine Wintersteen, director of off-campus study and international programs, said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
Of the 29 students studying away next semester, five also studied away this semester, four of whom are international students studying within their home countries and one who is pursuing a dual-degree program in engineering at Dartmouth College.
Next semester, two students are studying domestically at a field-based ecology program in Southern Arizona. The other 22 students are studying in England, Scotland, Denmark, China or Germany.
“The students now slated to study abroad are either directly enrolling at schools like the University of Edinburgh, Oxford or LSE [London School of Economics],” Wintersteen said. “As well as programs in Denmark like DIS Copenhagen, which is a program that has a capacity for a very large number of students; the infrastructure is set up for about 1200 students and they’ll have a group of 300-400 students, which means that they are able to de-densify in a significant way. ”
When making their choices, students were asked to review CDC and U.S. State Department travel guidance, since no student is allowed to study in a Level 4 country. Currently, all five countries students are planning to travel to are at a Level 3 travel advisory.
If the State Department changes the status of any of these countries to Level 4 before the student’s departure, they will not be allowed to attend their intended program.
All students studying away were asked to fill out an assumption of risk form that their parents or guardians also had to sign. Students studying domestically were also asked to fill out this form even though they are not leaving the country.
“All students studying off-campus are signing the assumption of risk because it is important that students familiarize themselves about potential areas of risk no matter the location, including the U.S. It has certainly been the case that our country is not immune to impacts of this pandemic,” Wintersteen wrote in an email to the Orient.
The assumption of risk form also absolves the College of any liability.
The College has also extended its remote offerings, allowing students to transfer credits if their program goes remote before the start of the semester or even during the semester. However, the assumption of risk notes that credits may still be lost in the event of a transition to remote learning.
“If the student is approved to go on the program as it stands now, and the program is planning to run all or portions of their program in-person but then has to change, we will accept the credit for that,” Wintersteen said. “I don’t anticipate that any of these programs will stop teaching altogether. They all have contingency plans to be able to offer their coursework remotely, and even some of these institutions will require students to begin their coursework remotely when they arrive.”