Although the coronavirus is only severely affecting certain parts of the world, US universities are exercising extreme caution by canceling many study abroad programs and asking students to return to the US. This is particularly true in northern Italy, where several schools, including Elon University, Stanford University, Syracuse University, and New York University, all have campuses.
Even schools without dedicated foreign campuses are enacting major cuts to their study abroad programs. Seton Hall University in New Jersey announced Thursday that all spring study abroad trips were canceled. The University of St. Thomas in Minnesota is banning university-related international travel. Rutgers University in New Jersey has also announced a blanket ban on Rutgers faculty-sponsored study abroad programs, and will bring students who are currently studying abroad home early.
Some schools are keeping their study abroad programs open, but giving students the option of returning home if they wish. According to John Peters, dean of international programs at Marist College’s Florence campus, “As of today, our assessment is that we are comfortable staying open.”
And it’s not just student travel from the US that’s being affected. The virus has also drastically reduced the number of students coming to study from China — the largest source of international students in the US.