COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Study Abroad
Global Affairs Canada has issued an Official Global Travel Advisory to "Avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice" and Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs has issued the official advice that, "Canadian travellers return to Canada via commercial means while they remain available."
Spring 2020 exchange students: If you are abroad and encountering restrictions or border closures that are impacting your ability to travel, contact the following for advice:
- International SOS: Call collect +1 215 942 8478 Member code # 27acas593560
- The local embassy/consulate of your citizenship (eg Canadian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate)
- Canadian Consular Services Emergency Assistance Abroad: +1 613 996 8885 (call collect where available)
(Canadian citizens only; students of other citizenships, access the equivalent services offered by your country of citizenship)
The following information pertains to programs operated through International Services for Students, including SFU's Formal Exchange Program. If you are participating in a university-sanctioned activity that is not run through International Services for Students, contact your program organizer.
Restrictions on SFU student travel on exchanges or field schools
- SFU has strongly recommended that all students currently abroad on Spring 2020 Exchanges depart their host / program location as soon as it is safe and feasible for them to do so. If Spring 2020 Exchange Students have not yet departed Canada for their exchange, SFU no longer approves their university-affiliated travel; they are advised to not travel. Impacted students have received email messaging and ISS continues to work to provide support to these students.
- SFU has cancelled all Summer 2020 Exchanges and Field School programs to all locations. Impacted students have received email messaging and ISS continues to work to provide support and alternatives to these students.
What would cause SFU to cancel a program?
The health and safety of students, staff and faculty is paramount. SFU would cancel a program if its location was determined by SFU to be no longer suitable for a study abroad program (eg due to safety or security issues). It may also be cancelled or curtailed should circumstances arise whereby SFU faculty/staff or third parties (including SFU’s exchange partner institutions) are no longer able to deliver the program. When making these determinations, SFU consults numerous resources, including the following:
- Canada’s Global Affairs Travel Advisories (SFU does not send students to programs in locations that have an advisory level of “Avoid Non-Essential Travel” or “Avoid All Travel”)
- Public Health Agency of Canada
- International SOS (member code 27acas593560)
- World Health Organization
- SFU’s partner institutions and providers in impacted regions
The decision to cancel a program is made with consideration to academic and financial impacts, and measures would be taken to mitigate these impacts to the degree possible.
What happens if SFU cancels my exchange program?
If SFU cancels your exchange prior to the start of the program, International Services for Students will work with you and attempt to make alternate arrangements. This may include deferring your exchange term, being placed at a different location (as availability and eligibility allow), or cancelling and studying at SFU for the term. The options available would depend on the timing of the cancellation and other factors at that time.
If SFU cancels your exchange part-way through the term, International Services for Students would work with you and your host institution to mitigate the impact of the situation. If it was not possible for you to complete the academic term through your host institution due to the COVID-19-related cancellation, SFU would refund the full tuition and student fees associated with your Formal Exchange Program enrollment. The options available would depend on the timing of the cancellation and other factors at that time.
If you are enrolled in a fee-paying program and your exchange is cancelled, you would be subject to your host institution’s refund policies (Fee-paying programs include: Beijing Institute of Technology; University of California, Berkeley – Summer Sessions; Korea University International Summer Campus).
See SFU's information on "What do I do if I am planning on traveling in the near future?" for further considerations if this scenario applies to you.
What if SFU doesn’t cancel my future 2020/21 exchange, but I’m no longer comfortable going, or no longer able to participate?
You may at any time request to make the following changes to your exchange program in relation to COVID-19 concerns:
Cancel your exchange. Email email@example.com to discuss. You will then be asked to complete an online form to make the cancellation official. Consider the following:
- The $150 Exchange Confirmation Fee is not refundable after the Opt-Out Deadline (March 30, 11:59pm for those who applied for a January 25 2020 deadline)
- Your host institution’s cancellation deadlines (would any fees be charged by your host institution? Have you paid any deposits such as housing that may not be refundable?)
- Any independent travel arrangements you have made (have you purchased flights? Would your insurance cover cancellation or changes?)
Request to defer your exchange (Eg change from Fall 2020 to Spring 2021). Deferrals cannot be guaranteed and depend in part on our partner institutions’ capacity. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss. Depending on the timing of your request, some of the considerations for cancelling may also apply.
Request a change in exchange location. Options will be limited, and being placed at an alternate location cannot be guaranteed. Email email@example.com to discuss. Depending on the timing of your request, some of the considerations for cancelling may also apply.
See SFU's information on "What do I do if I am planning on traveling in the near future?" if this scenario applies to you.
General guidance for the SFU community