Bethel decided to cancel all semester-long study abroad programs next year.

By Molly Korzenowski

Bethel announced that all semester-long study abroad options offered will be suspended for the 2020-2021 school year. COVID-19 has impacted the international travel industry significantly, causing a predicted decrease in tourist revenue, 17 percent lower than 2019. The post-virus recovery period will be felt internationally, which will have an effect on partnering study abroad programs.  

“It was a lot of stress, just trying to scramble to find classes that would fit for the fall,” sophomore Spanish education and TESOL major Erik Becker said. “We kind of built our four years around it.”

Becker signed up to be a part of the fall 2020 Spain semester, a requirement for Spanish education and Spanish majors. A few days before the announcement, the trip coordinator told him and the rest of the group that the semester program would be postponed to spring 2021. Then, he received news that it wouldn’t be happening at all in the next academic year. 

“It was in the back of my mind for a while that this might happen ever since it [the virus] started,” Becker said. “But when it happens, it’s just a whole different reality.”

According to Executive Vice President and Provost Deb Harless, Bethel made the decision earlier than most colleges because a range of experts monitoring the virus advised the university to move forward in gradual, measured ways. 

“We believe that it will not be possible for many of those programs to be viable, and waiting for the last minute creates another significant set of challenges,” Harless said. 

There will be no appeal process offered to students to study abroad, according to Harless. If a student needs study abroad experience in order to graduate, the student should contact an adviser right away for accomodations. 

No decisions have been made regarding interim programs or spring break trips in 2021.

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