Coronavirus Has Colleges Considering Virtual Study Abroad Programs
Photo Credit: Photo by Alexander Spatari for Getty Images

Photo Credit: Photo by Alexander Spatari for Getty Images

Coronavirus Has Colleges Considering Virtual Study Abroad Programs

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Parker Diakite
Parker Diakite Apr 13, 2020

With colleges and universities shut down and a ban on international travel,  academic institutions are trying to find alternative ways to provide students with a study abroad program.

One option that has come up is studying abroad from home.

For more than 10 years,  Dr. Mara Huber,  director of the Experiential Learning Network at the University at Buffalo, has taken students to Tanzania to study women’s empowerment.  But all that has changed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and she’s now launching the program online.

“I thought it was a good time to be bold and fully embrace the vision we had been working toward,” Huber told CNBC in an interview. “Universities have relationships with communities all around the world, and I think it’s time to use technology to give students access to these experiences.”

Huber said the program will rely on photos, videos, and other digital media collected over the past decade, and will have no additional costs aside from standard tuition.

That’s not the only institution considering virtual immersive overseas study experience.

In Boston, Northeastern University will offer a study abroad program online in the summer as well.

The school will offer a one-course or two-course option for students for intensive four-to-five-week courses. Tuition will only be charged if students choose to participate virtually, but all other program fees are being waived.

American University said in a statement to CNBC that it is also adapting its study abroad programs to operate online.

“All travel components of experiential learning are canceled and faculty are adjusting learning to a virtual format,” the statement said. “The travel fee for all such courses is being removed from the students’ accounts as a result.”

At Mercer University, the Office of International Programs has organized a “virtual world tour” of the school’s study abroad locations via Facebook and Instagram.