Isla Vista Beat Reporter
On Aug. 20, the University of California’s Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) canceled all winter quarter programs and a majority of spring semester programs scheduled for 2021. As of Oct. 16, only 25 programs are scheduled to run during the spring semester, starting after March 15.
According to an update letter issued on Aug. 25 by Vivian-Lee Nitray — the executive director of UCEAP — “UC Policy precludes UCEAP from operating in any countries where the US Department of State issues travel advisories of level three or higher, or where the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] issues health notices of alert level two or three.”
To learn more about what studying abroad looks like in the midst of this unpredictable pandemic, the Bottom Line sat down for an interview with professor Juan Campo, the faculty director of UCEAP at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB).
UCEAP is working extremely hard to move on with the continuation of programs in 2021 as planned. Campo confirmed that students are still being placed in their designated program for the Spring of 2021, but UCEAP is now mainly recruiting for the Fall and full-year programs.
Currently, UCEAP has been holding informational sessions for potential applicants to begin planning their time abroad.
“During the summer, several hundred students and parents attended,” said Campo about the informational sessions. “We know the interest is out there and we’re trying to find ways to keep students excited and engaged.”
Campo also addressed how the COVID-19 bombshell delayed the decision-making process for canceling programs earlier this year. Following the suspension of Spring 2020 programs on March 12 and the suspension of all summer and fall programs soon after, UCEAP is now finalizing their plans earlier and striving to notify students more promptly.
“They set a deadline by the end of September to make a decision on the post-March 15 spring programs,” said Campo.
In the case that serious and unforeseeable events happen after programs are finalized, UCEAP has reached an agreement with the registrar’s office to make sure that students who are affected by a program’s suspension still have priority to enroll in classes at UCSB on GOLD.
Changes regarding the continuation of programs may vary with the preferences of the host university, however. Additionally, UCEAP runs and manages its own programs and also contracts third-party providers to run programs for them stating, “We have to adjust according to the preferences of each of those three tiers.”
UCEAP programs scheduled to continue have been changed to accommodate UCEAP participants, such as limiting their capacities to admit a smaller number of students.
“In one of our programs in Asia — I believe it’s in Shanghai — the university has set a lower cap on the number of students that can go in relation to their concerns about maintaining a safe classroom environment,” explained Campo.
Although COVID-19 conditions and travel restrictions vary by region, UC students are not able to submit an application to more than one program as a backup option. Campo explained that UCEAP is set up for one application at a time because there are different deadlines and requirements for the programs offered.
“The best thing for a student to do is to sketch out what is their most preferred program in their meetings with our advisors, and what might be the options if that doesn’t happen,” said Campo.
“Even for students that plan to graduate in June — given that they haven’t had too many units — we can still allow them to go for an extra quarter after graduation with EAP,” he continued. In addition, UCEAP plans to host more information sessions about post-graduate opportunities abroad.
Campo encourages students interested in going abroad to take the chance and apply on MyEAP to the various programs offered for the 2021-22 school year, as it is free of cost to complete the process. UCSB students can also take advantage of advisors’ drop-in hours for assistance.
The University of California’s Education Abroad Program continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 outbreak for its participants with guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO), Student Health (SHS), and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC).