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Fall 2021 Study Abroad: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

UPDATED May 12, 2021: UR is proceeding with most programs abroad for the Fall 21 semester. For further details or if you have questions, please contact a member of the study abroad team or consult these FAQs.

How will UR decide on whether a program will run in the fall/academic year?

We have re-opened most programs with the anticipation that global mobility will resume more normally with the fall 2021 semester. Staff in International Education are keeping track of conditions and policies in the countries where we plan to send students. For an up-to-date list of programs and current entry requirements, please click here.

Please keep in mind that if conditions deteriorate or if students are not permitted to enter certain countries, it may be necessary to cancel programs.

We suggest students not make any payments related to study abroad (flights, program housing, etc.) or other financial or logistical commitments until after June 30. Questions regarding requirements of the abroad program, including the withdrawal and refund policy should be directed to the UR study abroad advisor that the student is working with, and/or the program abroad.

How did the US Dept of State (DOS) Travel Advisory system change recently and how has this change impacted UR's international programs?

Due to ongoing COVID-19 pandemic travel concerns, the DOS announced that it would begin to align the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) assessments of health conditions in its Travel Advisories. This change resulted in approximately 80% of the world moving to Travel Advisory level 4 (“Do Not Travel”). More about this change can be read on the DOS web page linked here.

UR continues to monitor conditions wherever we have programs or travelers. In response to the recent change in travel advisories, we have modified our travel policy to include a broader range of information when making our determinations about travel. We have notified students of this change and will review conditions in each of the countries where students hope to study abroad for fall. We will notify participants by June 30 at the latest whether any plans need to be altered or canceled.

Are there any special considerations for going abroad as a senior in fall 2021?

Please read the important information on the registrar’s webpage. Students should discuss their plans carefully with their academic advisors, including any questions about availability of required courses at UR upon their return from abroad, if relevant. Students will need to complete the senior audit while abroad (usually in November).

What can I expect of entry requirements?

Entry policies and requirements are likely to change as vaccines become more available worldwide. Airlines and governments will likely adjust policies. Our staff will continue to monitor these and will provide updates.

You will have to plan carefully for any testing and quarantine requirements prior to boarding flights as well as upon entry to your host country abroad. It is important that you are aware of and understand these policies as well as how to quarantine upon arrival if the country requires it.

For more information on travel and health guidelines, please consult the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory and the IATA Travel Centre.

Will I be able to travel within my study abroad country, and to other countries, while abroad?

Regional travel, or even travel within your study abroad country, may be limited due to restrictions placed by local governments or by your study abroad program. We encourage you to limit travel and enjoy the opportunity to become deeply engaged with your local community. You may be subject to a quarantine and/or a COVID-19 test once you arrive in country and upon return to the U.S. If conditions improve, you may be able to travel more freely. You’ll need to make sure you understand and adhere to local guidelines (e.g., quarantines, testing, visa requirements, etc.).

For more information on travel guidelines, health information and current COVID policies, please consult the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory by country.

Will I have to pay any fees (including withdrawal fees) if a program is cancelled or if I decide to withdraw after the program confirmation date?

UR will not charge withdrawal fees for students who cancel participation in a fall 2021 study abroad program prior to the program’s withdrawal date. On your program-specific checklist, available in each student’s UR GatewayAbroad application in the Learning Content section, there will be information regarding the withdrawal and refund policy of your program/university abroad.

Will I be able to participate in the UR fall 2021 housing lottery?

All students interested in campus housing must pay their housing deposit and complete their housing application by the specified due dates on the Housing webpage in the event that their study abroad is cancelled or they determine not to study abroad.

International Education staff work closely with the office of Residence Life and Housing (RLH) throughout the study abroad cycle. As in previous years, on-campus housing is not guaranteed if study abroad participation is cancelled. Students committed to study abroad do not participate in the housing lottery in the spring for the following fall semester. If a student cancels participation in fall study abroad or if the program abroad is cancelled, the study abroad staff in International Education will notify the Residence Life and Housing office.

After March 26, students planning to study abroad will be sent a housing interest form by Residence Life and Housing staff. It is important that students carefully read and respond to all emails regarding this and other processes related to study abroad. For more information on the housing process for students who study abroad in the fall, or for specific housing questions, please refer to the housing website or contact the RLH staff directly.

If I commit to my program abroad for fall 2021 (or academic year 2021-22), can I register for fall 2021 classes at UR?

Yes, you are encouraged to register for fall 2021 classes at Richmond. Students committed to going abroad will need to drop their courses on their own by June 4, as this is the end of the extended initial registration period. Students who remain committed for fall 2021 abroad and who have not dropped their courses by July 9 will be dropped from their fall 2021 courses on July 10.

Students who withdraw from abroad or whose program is cancelled after July 10 will be able to re-register for courses July 12-22 or during the normal drop/add period starting Friday, August 20.

If my in-person semester abroad is suspended and my university/program abroad offers the opportunity to take full-time courses remotely, is this allowed by UR?

Yes, but you may not live on campus at UR if studying remotely with the program/university abroad. It is possible that the program or university abroad will have a remote start, may change to on-line instruction prior to or during the semester abroad or may end early, requiring you to continue studies remotely on site or from home. Staff abroad may be available only remotely if local restrictions order employees to work from home.

If my arrival is delayed due to circumstances beyond my control, will I be allowed to start courses remotely and arrive in person at a later date at the university/program abroad?

This is up to the host university/program abroad, but most have developed flexibility under COVID conditions. Consult with your program or UR study abroad advisor for further information.

How does the University's health and travel insurance work if I am able to study abroad?

UR’s health and travel insurance covers study abroad participants while in any country except their home country. The insurance will cover illnesses and medical treatment related to COVID-19 the same as any other unforeseen sickness. The policy may cover trip cancellation and interruption if you become ill with COVID-19 before or during the trip. Otherwise, the insurance will not cover trip cancellation for a cancelled program due to changes in government, university or other regulations or if you decide against going abroad due to concern about the COVID-19 pandemic. Richmond is not able to pay for or reimburse students for fees not covered by UR’s health and travel insurance abroad policy (coverage details are available here).

If a you wish to purchase additional coverage for a policy with a cancel for any reason provision, you may do so at your own expense. This Forbes article may prove helpful in researching such policies.

Important notes:

  • UR’s health and travel insurance provides for a family member to join a student abroad if the student experiences an emergency (e.g., hospitalization for more than 24 hours), but this benefit may be difficult or impossible to use presently due to the many new requirements (entry restrictions, testing, quarantine, vaccination, etc.) that many countries have put in place due to the pandemic. We advise you to talk about this with your family so you can decide together how comfortable you are with the possibilities that could arise during a global pandemic and your ability to deal with them on your own.
  • Payment for self-isolation or quarantine is not covered by UR’s health and travel abroad insurance plan. The student may be liable for these charges and the host program/university may or may not be able provide facilities or pay for these fees. Know your university/program abroad policy regarding quarantining and self-isolation upon arrival and/or if exposed to COVID-19 when abroad. If you are unsure, please contact your UR study abroad advisor.
  • You may not be able to travel home readily in case of an emergency due to infrequent flights or travel restrictions, and flight availability may change in such a way that your travel home at the end of the program could be delayed. 
  • Students’ insurance abroad begins on the start date listed on your Insurance/Emergency Card and Letter (IECL) document located in the “Questionnaires and Letters” section of your UR GatewayAbroad application.
  • There is an additional 14-day personal deviation period which covers a total of 14 days prior to or after the dates listed on the IECL. If you stay abroad beyond this 14-day limit for activities (travel, internships, etc.) that are not part of your official study abroad program, then you should purchase other health/travel insurance to cover your “extra” time abroad.

Questions about insurance coverage? Contact Ms. Keesha Trim, Director of Risk Management.

Will UR help cover airline change or cancellation fees if my program is cancelled or if I am required to return to the United States?

No, this is the responsibility of each student. We recommend that you carefully check your airline’s policy regarding flight changes/cancellations. Please be aware that purchasing tickets directly from airlines, while sometimes more expensive, may provide greater possibilities for refunds and rescheduling than purchasing tickets from online discounters.

If I cannot go abroad will I have to take a leave of absence for the semester?

If this decision or cancellation is made prior to the start of UR classes, you will be eligible to participate in the fall UR semester. If a withdrawal or cancellation occurs during the first week of classes at Richmond, and possibly during the second week of classes depending on your courses, you may be eligible to take UR classes with appropriate approval. After the second week of the UR semester, you may need to take a leave of absence. We will work with each student, the host university/program abroad, the Registrar, the Office of Student Accounts, and the Office of Financial Aid at UR, as applicable, to minimize financial and credit loss to the student, when possible.

We strongly encourage students and their families to consider purchasing tuition protection insurance offered through the Office of Student Accounts. It is important to read the information carefully to understand what is covered and what is excluded.

When should I apply for my student visa?

Your study abroad advisor will provide you with this information. If you are uncertain about how to proceed, please contact your study abroad advisor soon as it may take longer to process visas depending how the pandemic has affected consular operations.

If you have financial aid that exceeds the cost of tuition and you need a funding letter for your student visa application, please send an email message to Ms. Emily Martin requesting a funds certification letter.

If available, will the cost of a COVID-19 vaccine be covered by the UR health and travel abroad insurance?

The vaccine cost is not covered by the University’s health and travel insurance for study abroad. If the host country does charge a fee for this vaccine, students will pay for this out of pocket if they choose to be vaccinated. Some countries may require vaccination while students are on site. We recommend that students with pre-existing health conditions or who have known reactions to vaccines talk to their healthcare professional prior to going abroad for advice and obtain, if necessary, a doctor’s note explaining any conditions that may affect a decision about getting the vaccine.

When should I book my flights?

We recommend purchasing your flight tickets at least a month prior to departure, if possible. Many airlines are still offering no-fee cancellation or change policies. With conditions changing, we recommend that you only purchase a flight with an airline that has this policy in place. Major carriers often have this information available on their home pages. We suggest you purchase your flights with the airline directly to make changes, if necessary, more easily.

Are any further changes possible?

If conditions deteriorate or if students are not permitted to enter certain countries, it may be necessary to cancel programs going forward. We continue to monitor the global situation and each specific location.