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COVID-19 Information and FAQs

Updated on November 25, 2020. 

This web page will be updated regularly with answers to frequently asked questions about the coronavirus or Covid-19, particularly as it relates to programs abroad.

For additional information about campus coronavirus updates, please go to https://www.utk.edu/coronavirus. 

Status of Future Programs

Spring 2021

A number of in-person education abroad programs for spring are undergoing further review and continue to proceed as planned. UT and our partner institutions and affiliate providers have made the difficult choice to cancel some spring education abroad programs and additional cancellations may be necessary. Some programs may also be offered in a fully remote format.

UT’s academic calendar no longer includes a spring break in March. Spring break 2021 education abroad programs have been moved from mid-March to the beginning of May.

See Appendix below for UT’s academic year 2020-2021 programs that have been canceled.

Students who wish to engage in global learning experiences that do not require travel abroad may wish to consider our online international programs. See the Programs Abroad website for more details.

Spring Break-May, Mini-Term, and Summer Programs

Education abroad programs for spring break-May, mini-term and summer 2021 are proceeding as well. UT faculty-directed program applications will open up for applications within the next few weeks.

You are eligible to study abroad if your affiliate program provider has not canceled your program. Depending on your program start date, your program may or may not be affected. Please stay in communication with the affiliate and the Programs Abroad Office about your program status.

Check UT affiliate providers’ websites for updates on how COVID-19 is affecting their programs:

Contacts and Communication

The Programs Abroad Office will contact students that that are pending, accepted, or commited to programs directly via email with updates as soon as they become available. The FAQs will be updated frequently throughout each semester as more information becomes available.


Students with questions about the status of their education abroad program should contact their Programs Abroad Office Coordinator at volsabroad@utk.edu, or 865-974-3177.

Decision Making

UT is monitoring Covid-19 in close cooperation with the Overseas Security Advisory Council (an office of the US Department of State), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and our private health, safety and security partners. University updates can be found on this webpage: https://utk.edu/coronavirus.

UT consults the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Department of State, the World Health Organization, national and local government and health agencies abroad, and our private health, safety, and security partners. When making decisions about specific programs. UT also considers:

  • Local and regional conditions
  • Input from peer institutions and overseas partners
  • Host country entry and exit restrictions and regulations for travelers or citizens from the U.S.
  • Covid-19 policies and protocols in a host country
  • Re-entry restrictions and regulations for U.S. passport holders returning from abroad
  • Status and availability of immigration processes, including visas, if necessary
  • Important dates and deadlines
  • Academic and financial considerations for students due to program interruption or cancellation

Program plans will move forward unless you receive notification of a suspension or cancellation decision. Students should avoid making any early financial commitments on items such as flights or housing in case of program cancellation. The Programs Abroad Office will communicate with applicants regularly and provide program information and status updates directly via email.

We anticipate any necessary cancellation decisions to be made in November/December for spring programs and in March for May, mini-term and summer programs. Fall and academic year programs will have varying timelines during late spring and summer for possible cancellation.

Yes. Some education abroad programs may be offered in the online format instead of in-person. Students will be notified if their program’s format is changed from in-person to online or a hybrid.

Students can consider additional opportunities with our suite of online international programs, as well. See the Programs Abroad website for more details.

Program Cancellations

If your program is canceled, it is no longer running for the term. It may be offered again in the future. If your program is suspended, it is on hold. The Programs Abroad Office will communicate status updates and offer alternatives to students.

Academic Information
If programs are canceled, UT will work with students to identify alternative academic options. The University is committed to supporting our students’ academic success. In all cases, the Programs Abroad Office will work with our partner institutions and organizations, as well as the student’s academic department at UT to identify appropriate academic solutions. Online/remote coursework or other opportunities may be available as an alternative for you. The Programs Abroad Office will communicate such possiblities directly to students.

We will also work closely with the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships to provide support and guidance where appropriate. Moreover, students should always consult with their academic advisors regarding their academic plans.

Financial Information
If you plan to partcipate on a UT Faculty-directed, Academic Internship or Exchange program and it is canceled prior to the start date, you will not be charged tuition or any fees associated with the program.

If you are participating in a UT Affiliate or Direct program, you would need to contact those organizations to learn what costs are refundable. In most cases UT partner organizations such as affiliates and direct programs will make every effort to waive or reduce fees associated with study abroad in emergency situations.

Withdrawals


UT understands that personal tolerance for risk may vary, and that final decisions will be made between a student and their family/financial supporters. If a student chooses to withdraw from a future education abroad program after committing to participate, the student will be subject to the terms of the applicable withdrawal policy which can be found in the students’ Vols Abroad portal and, if applicable, their program provider’s documentation. Should the Programs Abroad Office ultimately cancel a UT Faculty-Directed, Academic Internship or Exchange program prior to the start date (even after the student has withdrawn), the student will receive a full refund of the program fee, tuition (if applicable), and study abroad administrative fee.

UT will make every effort to assist any student that wishes to leave their host country/program early. They should understand important policies and procedures prior to their withdrawal or departure. Please email volsabroad@utk.edu or contact the Programs Abroad Office at (865) 974-3177 if this decision is made.

Insurance

Please visit the Programs Abroad Office’s Health Insurance webpage for more information. Until further notice, all UT students (faculty-directed, exchange, direct, academic internship and affiliate provider program participants) will be enrolled in UT’s CISI International Insurance Coverage.

The Programs Abroad Office strongly recommends that students purchase fully refundable airline tickets and trip protection insurance to safeguard against losses or penalties associated with withdrawal or program cancelation. The Programs Abroad Office assumes no responsibility for such losses or penalties.

Please visit the Programs Abroad Office’s Health Insurance webpage for more information.

Education abroad insurance coverages typcially include medical care if you become ill for a wide variety of reasons, including a Covid-19 diagnosis. Students would consult with their program contacts on-site, local medical professionals, and the insurance provider to determine the best course of action, in the event of infection. This could include receiving care locally or a medical evacuation if deemed necessary.

Guidance and COVID-19

The protocol for traveling to and from international destinations, and that country’s Covid-19 information and data reporting, is country-specific. The best place to find information on COVID-19 in a specific country is through that country’s Ministry of Health and government websites, US Embassies and Consulates overseas, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of State.

Students should expect to follow all guidelines for Covid-19 in their host country. These can change prior to or during a program. Your program contacts will maintain regular communication with you and share important information as soon as it becomes available.

Programs are designed to give students great academic experiences and provide opportunites to see their subject area in a new way with local immersion. Although immersion may look different and adjustments may be necessary, programs always strive to include rewarding, hands-on experience with coursework and out-of- class experiences. The Programs Abroad Office is working closely with our program leaders and providers to best understand and implement all the ways this is possible.

Students should anticipate that their experience abroad will be different than they may have originally imagined. We encourage you to keep in mind the following as you set expectations for a term abroad:

  • Independent Travel: Independent travel outside of the city and/or country where you are studying abroad may be limited. Country borders may be closed, quarantine measures may remain in place, and there may be sudden changes to any country’s entry and exit requirements with little or no notice. Be prepared to stay in your host country for the duration of your program.
  • Health Screenings and Quarantine/Self Isolation: You may be required to have health screenings while you are traveling or during your program. This may include temperature readings and Covid-19 testing. Your semester abroad may include a 2-week quarantine due to travel regulations or in the event that you or someone near you have been exposed to the coronavirus. If you are infected with the coronavirus, you will be required to self-isolate and follow the local guidelines. You may face disciplinary actions, legal penalties and financial consequences for not complying with local regulations.
  • Academic Experience: Many programs and universities are implementing a hybrid online/in-person format for the upcoming semesters. Be familiar and comfortable with both forms. There may be sudden changes to the academic format of your program and additional rules/restrictions may be put in place within the classroom spaces or housing.
  • Social Experience: you may find that you are one of few education abroad participants on your program. In some cases, you may be the only participant on your program. You may have limited opportunities for in-person interaction with others.

Students with questions about the status of their education abroad program should contact their Programs Abroad Office Coordinator, volsabroad@utk.edu, or 865-974-3177.

Canceled 2021 Programs

  • Academic year 2020-2021 programs were deferred to spring 2021

  • Macquarie University
  • Massey University
  • University of Canberra
  • University of Canterbury
  • University of New South Wales
  • CCI Global Communication Scholars Semester in Sydney
  • Greg and Lisa Smith Global Leadership Scholars Internship Semester has been postponed until fall 2021
  • UT Architecture Semester in Tokyo has been postponed until fall 2021