EU travel restrictions could impact study abroad programs despite Baylor requiring vaccination for study abroad students

Baylor study abroad programs are effected due to the U.S. being taken off of the safe travel list. Grace Fortier | Photographer

By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer

Study abroad programs are up and running this fall after being canceled in past semesters due to COVID-19. However, new travel restrictions from the European Union could affect international travel.

The EU removed the United States from its safe travel list, enabling more restrictions on U.S. travelers.

“The new travel restrictions will have no immediate impact on study abroad for fall semester 2021,” Dr. Jeffrey Hamilton, vice provost for Global Engagement and the Jo Murphy Chair in international education, said. “We currently have 43 students studying abroad this fall, and all but four have already arrived at their partner institutions. We anticipate no disruptions for any of these students.”

San Antonio sophomore McKenzie Campbell said she attended the interest meeting for Baylor in Budapest, a summer study abroad program. She said she wants to experience a new place and culture but is worried the trip could be canceled due to travel restrictions.

“They’re still kind of waiting for things to happen,” Campbell said. “If the trip gets canceled because of COVID, or any other purpose, we get refunded our money, which is nice to know. I think that’s a good thing that Baylor does, but hopefully, it doesn’t happen. It’s still a very long time away, so anything’s possible, but I think with all the rules that they have set in place, I really hope it goes through.”

Campbell said it’s disappointing that the U.S. has not been able to contain the virus, leading to the travel restrictions from the EU.

“People would have wanted better for us,” Campbell said. “And you know, if they say, ‘I want to travel,’ they should realize that this vaccine and this virus is not only for us, it’s across the whole world. [EU] countries have been dealing with it so much better than we have. So I think that is pretty concerning, considering it’s been like a year and a half since all this started and our numbers are still rising at a pretty great rate.”

According to Baylor’s Center of Global Engagement, all international group travel is restricted to fully vaccinated individuals.

Campbell said she learned at the interest meeting that there are no exceptions to being vaccinated for international travel with Baylor. Campbell said she was comforted by the fact that if she decides to go, she would be traveling with vaccinated people.

“Studies and science have shown that the vaccine has been working,” Campbell said. “It is really a safety net to have everybody vaccinated, especially when traveling overseas. I think it’s a great requirement, especially with the time we’re living in, and hopefully, it gets a little bit better next year.”

According to Baylor’s COVID-19 Interim International and Domestic Travel Policy, restrictions on international travel will be reviewed monthly.

“We will continue to monitor the situation, not only in Europe but across the world, as we evaluate future semesters,” Hamilton said. “The situation remains fluid, and the duration and nature of restrictions is difficult to predict.”