IEGI COVID-19 FAQ

  • How does Binghamton University assess the risk of an education abroad program location?

    Binghamton University determines location safety by following information provided by the U.S. State Department Travel Advisories, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Warning level alerts, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). The IEGI also follows guidance from our campus Office of Risk Management and the International Travel Safety Committee, and considers procedures implemented by our fellow SUNY study abroad offices. At any time, Binghamton University’s assessment and decision making can be superseded by decisions made by the State University of New York and the Governor’s office.

    As of August 6, 2020, the U.S. Department of State introduced country-specific Travel Advisory levels. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also enacted country-specific Travel Health Notices.  A U.S. State Department Level 2 and CDC Warning Level 2 are typically our normal operating levels. Any elevation in advisory levels indicates a change in condition, prompting us to review the situation, assess impact on our students and staff, and evaluate whether we can maintain our programs. 

  • Is Binghamton University running education abroad programs in spring 2021?    

    Due to the rapidly evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications for health and safety and for travel, Binghamton University will continue to monitor the global situation before making any determinations about study abroad for spring 2021. In the event that study abroad for spring 2021 is unable to move forward as planned, we will convey any decisions with as much advance notice as possible.

  • I am interested in studying abroad for spring 2021; what should I do?   
     

    Our programs can be located online. The Apply Now button will be activated if it is currently accepting applications. Be sure to complete all steps by the program’s stated application deadline (at the latest, this will be October 1, though some programs may have an earlier deadline). 

    We also encourage you to create contingency plans for the spring 2021 semester by completing advance registration and considering housing at your home campus. It is important to be prepared for both options for the spring semester, as this situation is fluid and constantly changing. 

    Please monitor your email regularly for updates from the IEGI and your partner programs (for Binghamton students, this should be your Binghamton University email account; for non-Binghamton students, this is the email you used when you started your application for the Binghamton University program). If Binghamton University makes any changes to your program status, we will reach out to you directly via email. 

    If you are accepted to your program, you should commit and pay the $150 commitment program fee to ensure your spot. This fee will be refundable if the program must be administratively cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic or low enrollment.

    We strongly recommend that you do not purchase airfare or make travel plans related to your education abroad program at this time. Accepted students will receive guidance from their program advisor regarding when it is appropriate to purchase airfare, and what guidelines to consider when making this purchase.

  • What do I need to consider when it is time to purchase airfare?
     

    Students who are admitted to an education abroad program should wait for their program advisor to indicate it is a good time to purchase airfare. Students are responsible for making their own flight arrangements. We strongly advise students to purchase airline tickets that permit a change of date or cancellation of the flight, and to purchase tickets directly from the airline rather than a third-party vendor (like Expedia or Travelocity). Current airline guidelines indicate this is normally allowed with a penalty. Students should not purchase non-refundable airline tickets even though they may be less expensive. Non-refundable tickets often do not provide adequate protection for unforeseen circumstances. Be sure to read all of the provisions associated with any airline ticket or independent travel purchase. 

    Travel agents and insurance companies are sources of information about available trip cancellation insurance policies. Students purchasing trip insurance should be aware of what it does and does not cover.

  • Can I complete personal travel to other locations during my education abroad program?
     

    At this time, the IEGI does not recommend personal travel at the end of an education abroad program. We recommend monitoring the U.S. State Department’s country-specific Travel Advisory levels, and the CDC’s country-specific Travel Health Advisories

    Many locations already have guidelines for quarantine upon entry and activities may be greatly restricted. If the pandemic escalates, there may be rapidly changing conditions and serious disruptions, including public transportation curtailment, mandatory health screening, regional entry and exit prohibitions, mandatory quarantine, and other significantly impactful public health measures.

    Students must also consider the recommendation to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to the U.S., and how this may impact personal, academic, and employment plans upon return. 

  • What if I want to travel outside of my host-city or host-country while abroad?
    Students should be keenly aware, whether or not they are personally exposed to the virus, that the local response to the virus could dramatically alter their travel plans. During spring 2020, some locations experienced rapidly changing conditions and serious disruptions, including public transportation curtailment, mandatory health screening, regional entry and exit prohibitions, mandatory quarantine, and other significantly impactful public health measures. While Binghamton University provides pre-departure information to assist students in making good choices to minimize risk, the risk assumed (health, safety, and academic/program) by traveling outside of their country of study is their own. As such, Binghamton University is strongly advising students against participating in recreational travel outside of their host-country. 
  • Can I complete personal travel to other locations after my education abroad program? 
    At this time, the IEGI does not recommend personal travel at the end of an education abroad program. We recommend monitoring the U.S. State Department’s country-specific Travel Advisory levels, and the CDC’s country-specific Travel Health Advisories.

    Many locations already have guidelines for quarantine upon entry and activities may be greatly restricted. If the pandemic escalates, there may be rapidly changing conditions and serious disruptions, including public transportation curtailment, mandatory health screening, regional entry and exit prohibitions, mandatory quarantine, and other significantly impactful public health measures.

    Students must also consider the current recommendation to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to the U.S., and how this may impact personal, academic, and employment plans upon return. 

  • If I am accepted for spring 2021 and the program is suspended, can I transfer my spring 2021 application pieces to a fall 2021 application? 
     

    Please keep in mind that although spring 2021 education abroad programs are still slated to run as planned, the rapidly evolving nature of the pandemic also means it is possible that spring 2021 education abroad will not be permitted. 


    We are currently assessing what current application pieces would be able to transfer, as this is considered on a program-by-program basis. Our goal is to make any deferment as smooth as possible. You would likely be required to resubmit your transcript, judicial review, and signature documents. Your program advisor can confirm if your letters of recommendation can also be utilized for a different semester’s application, as this varies by program. Please note that spring applications typically open over the summer and have a deadline of October 1 or sooner. Check your program’s webpage for additional details (in the Schedule tab) related to timing. 

  • Will Binghamton University suspend any future education abroad programs? 
     

    The timing of our program suspension decisions will be based on a balance of global health information, public health and safety advisories, travel restrictions, visa application dates, and program deadlines, as well as institutional and student feedback. Once a decision has been made to suspend a program, staff in the Office of International Education and Global Initiatives (IEGI) will promptly notify our applicants and institutions with details about alternative program options.

    Because this is a rapidly evolving situation, we ask that students currently abroad or planning to study abroad in the future stay in touch with the IEGI and watch for updates from our office.

  • What happens if Binghamton University suspends an upcoming program that has not yet started?
    If an upcoming program should be suspended, we will swiftly notify students, partner institutions, and program leaders. If the student has paid their Commitment Fee and the program is administratively cancelled due to safety concerns or low enrollment, this fee will be refunded by the IEGI. We’ll also direct students to campus offices for assistance with academic planning, financial aid, and other considerations.
  • What happens if Binghamton University suspends a program that is currently running, and students are overseas?
     

    If we suspend a program where students are overseas, we will immediately notify students, their partner university, and any faculty or staff leading the program (program leaders). Students should contact their airlines to inquire about rebooking their return airfare home; ideally students have purchased tickets which provide flexibility in changes and/or cancellation. Reimbursement cannot be provided for any lost costs related to airfare and personal travel plans.

    The IEGI will advocate for students in determining the options for completion of academic requirements, with either the overseas partner or at their home campus. We urge the affected students to contact their program advisor for questions related to academic continuance.

  • What academic contingency plans exist when current programs are suspended? 
     

    If a program is suspended or if a student decides to return home from a program, and the overseas partner offers distance learning, Binghamton University expects the returning student to complete their term through the distance learning option. If students are offered by their host institution to continue coursework remotely due to COVID-19, coursework will be designed for students to continue learning through alternative means to satisfy course completion. Coursework might be delivered in a multitude of ways, allowing for maximum flexibility.

    If a program is cancelled or if a student decides to return home from a program, and the university partner abroad does not offer distance learning, Binghamton University will work with students and their academic advisors to identify options that will assist them to retain full or partial credit, depending on the timing of suspension and the options available which meet the student’s academic needs. The IEGI cannot guarantee that alternative credit options will be available for every student’s situation, and some options may have additional costs involved. 

  • What if a student wants to return from a program that is not suspended? 
    The IEGI also understands that in some cases a student may wish to return home from a program that is within our risk tolerance. The IEGI will provide guidance to the student regarding implications for academic progress and financial impact. Once the student confirms their plan to depart in writing, the IEGI will take any steps necessary to ensure the student’s safety, to communicate with the overseas partner, and to update necessary departments on the student’s home campus regarding their program departure. Students should also refer to the IEGI Withdrawal Policy listed on their program’s Estimate of Costs sheet to review the financial implications. 
  • Are there additional risks for students travelling abroad on a program that is not sponsored by Binghamton University? 
      

    As of August 6, 2020, the U.S. Department of State introduced country-specific Travel Advisory levels. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also enacted country-specific Travel Health Notices. A U.S. State Department Level 2 and CDC Warning Level 2 are typically our normal operating levels. 

    Students should be keenly aware, whether or not they are personally exposed to the virus, that the local response to the virus could dramatically alter their travel plans. During spring 2020, some locations experienced rapidly changing conditions and serious disruptions, including public transportation curtailment, mandatory health screening, regional entry and exit prohibitions, mandatory quarantine, and other significantly impactful public health measures. Due to the large number of program providers and locations available, Binghamton University is unable to assess programs that are organized by other institutions and providers regarding safety protocols, risk management procedures, and overall program quality.  As such, Binghamton University is strongly advising against Binghamton students participating in programs offered by other institutions at this time