In a student email this morning, the university informed students that all international student exchanges and placements have been cancelled for the first semester of the 2020-2021 academic year.
Professor Jane Falkingham (Vice-President, International) and Professor Alex Neill (Vice-President, Education) informed students that any Semester 1 exchanges would not go ahead due to the current coronavirus pandemic, and that they cannot confirm what will happen with Semester 2 placements and exchanges yet.
The email stated:
The University of Southampton has taken the difficult decision to suspend all physical international mobility for Semester 1 2020 – 2021 due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision applies to both incoming and outgoing student exchange and placements. You will appreciate this decision has been made with your safety and wellbeing foremost in our in minds and for the practical reason that many borders around the globe remain closed with the ability to travel severely limited and likely to be limited for many months yet. Many of our international partners and fellow UK universities have likewise taken this step. While we wished to delay making this decision we do need to do so now so that students, staff and international partners can explore alternative arrangements.
Those who are expected to take their placement or exchange in Semester 1 have been told, in the letter attached to the email to:
- Defer your exchange to Semester 2. This option must be discussed with your academic exchange coordinator to see if it is possible within your programme of study. With their support please then inform the Study Abroad and Exchange Team and we can defer your nomination. If Semester 2 exchange is not possible, you will be able to enrol in Southampton for Semester 2 and continue your studies as normal.
- Withdraw from the Semester exchange programme and continue to enrol at Southampton as normal for academic year 2020 – 2021. If you choose to do this please inform your academic exchange coordinator and the Study Abroad and Exchange Team so we can withdraw your nomination.
- Engage with Semester 1 teaching abroad virtually. Some of our partners will enrol exchange students to engage with their online content in Semester 1 to enable students to continue benefiting from their module content without travelling. Students are urged to consider the challenges and limitations of this and discuss this with their academic exchange coordinator. If you wish to consider this then please contact the Study Abroad and Exchange Team to explore which partners are offering online programs for Southampton students.
Those expecting to take a full year abroad (e.g. Languages programmes) have been told that options include:
- Virtual Engagement for Semester 1. Some of our partners are welcoming exchange students to engage remotely for Semester 1 2020 – 2021 with the hope they can then continue physical mobility in Semester 2. Students are urged to consider the challenges and limitations of this and discuss this with their academic exchange coordinator. If you wish to consider this then please contact the Study Abroad and Exchange Team to explore which partners are offering online programs for Southampton students.
- Revert to 3 year degree programme. If students wish to revert back to a three year degree programme (without a year abroad) then please discuss this with your academic exchange coordinator and School as there may be limitations to this. We appreciate there may be limitations to this. If you take this decision, please inform the Study Abroad and Exchange Team so we can withdraw your nomination to the partner institution.
- Suspend studies for a year. If you wish to suspend your studies and reapply for the year abroad in 2021 – 2022 then please discuss this with your academic exchange coordinator and personal academic tutor. We would encourage students to explore other options to ensure academic continuity before choosing this. Furthermore, this choice would require you to resubmit your preferences and application and be reallocated an exchange partner. Again, please inform the Study Abroad and Exchange Team if this is what you decide.
- Undertake a split year abroad. Depending on the requirements and structure of your programme of study there may, in some cases, be potential to undertake a split year abroad (Semester 2 2020 – 2021 and then Semester 1 2021 – 2022) however, this would only be with agreement and prior discussion with your academic exchange coordinators and with the understanding that if physical exchange is still not possible in Semester 2 2020 – 2021 that there is a willingness to be flexible moving forwards.
The departments involved can still be contacted at this time by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.