The emergence of the coronavirus pandemic has destabilised the certainty university study abroad providers have had regarding the safety of certain international destinations. Despite this, there are some countries that have deep support networks for American students, such as the UK and Ireland.
Studying abroad in the UK and Ireland
The UK ranked at number one in the 2019 Open Doors report of the top study abroad destinations for students, and Ireland ranked in sixth place.
The primary appeal of these destinations for American international students is that they are English speaking countries with familiar cultures, but they are also regarded as safe destinations for American students to spend time living away from home.
The United States has been collaborating with the UK and Ireland in study abroad organisations for many years, with long-standing programs such as the Rhodes Scholarship. In fact, some US universities, such as Tufts, NYU and Syracuse, have built campuses in the UK and Ireland to facilitate long and short term studies.
The UK and Ireland’s response to COVID-19
The UK and Ireland have made public health their main priority during the coronavirus pandemic, but as both countries have reopened their economies, COVID-19 cases have risen again. Both countries have introduced quarantine rules for certain countries, but neither has barred residents from other countries, such as the United States.
COVID-19 testing is now accessible to visitors in both the UK and Ireland for free, and with these mitigation measures in place, fatality rates are very low in both nations.
The confidence that the UK and Ireland are taking appropriate safety measures has resulted in international students from outside the UK and EU entering both countries.
The relationship between universities and study abroad providers
In the midst of the global public health crisis, maintaining strong relationships between study abroad providers and universities is crucial. This relationship continues to be built on a consistent exchange of information and trust.
Study abroad providers offer a breath of trusted safety and support protocols for universities to implement with students overseas. For example, staff members are trained in mental and physical first aid. Students can come to staff members with any health concerns and they will be directed to the right person, whether that’s a counsellor or doctor.
With study abroad providers offering support to students overseas, it remains essential for universities to foster open lines of communication with them to prioritise student safety and hone their existing risk management strategies.