Update on Study-Abroad and Exchange Programs in Croatia, Ireland, and the U.K.

This is an important update with regard to your study-abroad and exchange programs outside of the Schengen Treaty area of Europe. The Schengen Treaty Area comprises the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. You are receiving this message because you are enrolled in a program in Croatia, Ireland, or the U.K.

What was announced on Wednesday night?

On the evening of March 11, the President announced new restrictions for 30 days on travel from the above listed countries to the United States, beginning at 11.59 p.m. EDT on Friday, March 13, 2020. You can find the full text of the Presidential Proclamation here. These entry restrictions do not currently apply to travel from Croatia, Ireland, or the U.K., nor do they apply to US Citizens and Permanent Residents.

Additionally, on the evening of March 11, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention also raised the travel health warning for the Schengen Area countries listed above to Level 3 (Avoid Non-Essential Travel). This elevated health warning also currently excludes Croatia, Ireland, and the U.K.

What does this mean for my program abroad?

Based on this guidance, UMass has suspended all study-abroad and exchange activities in the Schengen area. Although we are not currently suspending study-abroad programs or exchanges in Croatia, Ireland, or the UK, we are mindful of the anxiety that this rapidly evolving situation is causing many students and their families. We are offering you the option of voluntarily leaving your program and returning to the United States, if you feel that this would be in your best interests. We will continue to monitor the health situation in your countries and the guidance from state and federal agencies and will inform you in a timely fashion if there are any changes or mandated suspensions.

You may elect to choose this voluntary option to return from your program by Tuesday, March 17, 2020.  Please fill out this form if you will be taking up this option.  Log out of your personal Google account and into UMass Apps to access the form.

  • Complete this form even if you have already left your host country.
  • Complete this form even if you have already forwarded us your flight itinerary.
  • Non-UMass students: forward your flight itinerary to abroad@umass.edu.

UMass will be able to offer limited financial assistance to students for flight change or rebooking costs if your airline does not provide you with penalty free changes. More information on this will be forthcoming soon.

If you decide to return to the United States, UMass asks that you return to your permanent home address.  As you will be aware, next week is UMass’s Spring Break and classes on campus will be moving to online format after that until April 6, so all students who are able to return home have been asked not to return to campus. Please be mindful of your health and that of others upon your return. Although there is currently no required self-quarantine period for travellers returning from Croatia, Ireland, or the UK, here is some information from the CDC website on best practices for returning from a high-risk area.

If you will require housing accommodations on campus for any reason (e.g., you are a returning international student), please complete this form so we can try to assist you.

Courses, credits, financial aid?

Some of your study-abroad programs or universities may already have made the decision to move their teaching and courses online. Other programs and universities are still making these arrangements. 

We know that most of you will have questions about your courses and the credits you will receive, but please address these questions to your program providers and host universities before you make your decision to leave. We will also be working with our partners to gather this information as soon as they can provide it. Please bear in mind that this is an unprecedented and fast evolving situation that we are all having to deal with, and some of these details will take time to sort out, and it is in your interest to gather as much information you can before you make the decision to leave your program.  We are optimistic that in the vast majority of cases, our partners overseas will be able to allow you to complete your academic semester remotely. Please know, however, that there will be no adverse impact on your financial aid or registration status if you decide to leave, and IPO and UMass will assist with mitigating any academic impact if there is an interruption of coursework.

If you have questions about partial refunds for your program or housing, these questions are best addressed to your program provider or your host university. IPO will be happy to help with addressing these questions in due course, but our priority will be to secure answers about academic continuity and completion, as well as prioritizing clarity for students in countries where UMass has suspended all programs.

I have more questions.

IPO staff is working as quickly as possible to counter this enormous disruption and disappointment for nearly 600 students all over the world. We will try to provide answers to generally applicable queries as rapidly as we can but please bear in mind that responses to complex or individual questions will take some time to resolve. Again, our priorities will be to assist the safe return of students followed by resolving academic questions and issues. We will be working through the upcoming weekend assisting students and families in countries where we have had to suspend programs, so we ask for your patience. Please send your questions to abroad@ipo.umass.edu.

We will be sharing this and all future updates with your families (for those students who have provided us with e-mails) but please also share/forward this and future communications to anyone who you feel is appropriate. All information and updates will also be shared to the UMass Coronavirus response website.

Sincerely,

Mark Eckman
Director of Education Abroad
Deputy Title IX Coordinator
International Programs Office
University of Massachusetts Amherst