Harvard’s Office of International Education announced Friday morning that it would cancel study abroad programming for the Spring 2021 semester.
The decision comes in light of continued concerns over student health and safety, persistent travel restrictions, and countries’ evolving entry requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual study abroad programming will not be available as “for-credit options” for Harvard College students, OIE’s notice added.
However, the announcement does not apply to homebound international students enrolled in their local universities.
Camila L. Nardozzi, director of the OIE, called Friday’s decision “excruciatingly disappointing.”
“We’ve been watching the public health situation for months and months, since the start of all of this,” Nardozzi said. “Unfortunately, things worldwide haven’t progressed in the way that I think, globally, we would have hoped they would.”
Nardozzi said her office’s decision came as a result of extensive discussions with Harvard’s Office of Global Support Services, Provost Alan M. Garber ’76, and the Office of Undergraduate Education.
As the OIE monitored the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide, staff largely anticipated the eventual decision to cancel study-abroad programming. That choice “was made for us,” Nardozzi noted.
The announcement came a day after the deadline by which many students had to submit applications for international universities, leaving them frustrated.
Kyle D. O’Connor ’22, who is on a leave of absence for the fall semester, had submitted applications to schools in Scotland, England, and Australia, hoping to study abroad for the spring semester.
“I’ve wanted to study abroad ever since I started. It’s been a dream of mine,” O’Connor said.
For O’Connor, the OIE’s decision came as a surprise. He said he had already solicited letters of recommendation, paid the fees that came with requesting and sending his transcripts, and sat down for hours with OIE staff.
“So, this comes as