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The AIFS Abroad Team continues to work with our onsite staff, insurance and global risk management resources and partner universities abroad to implement and modify a flexible plan which reflects ever-changing realities of running a program in a pandemic. We have learned a lot since the onset COVID-19 allowing us to successfully have students on an international program this Spring. We continue to gather information from multiple sources below and will continue to make well-informed and timely decisions.
Our 2021 and future planning for each of our programs takes into account factors such as:
As an organization we strive to be clear and constant with our communication so that students, parents and our university colleagues feel confident in AIFS Abroad programming.
AIFS Abroad offers programs in many locations around the globe. In all of these locations we will be working closely with our local representatives, local authorities, consular partners and university partners to make sure we are following the most up to date guidelines and procedures for COVID-19. Below you'll find answers to some key questions for our health and safety review and practices.
As vaccinations continue around the world, evidence collected by a variety of health organizations indicates that fully vaccinated people are less likely to be infected without showing symptoms and therefore potentially less likely to transmit COVID-19 to others.
In an effort to keep our participants, staff, and host communities safe, AIFS Abroad will be strongly recommending vaccinations for our Summer 2021 participants and requiring them for all Fall 2021 participants and beyond. We will continue to monitor the information from our host countries and advise participants as entry protocols change. Recent news suggests that some countries may be opening to fully vaccinated individuals to travel as tourists this summer, removing the need for quarantine on arrival, and requiring proof of vaccination for entry. Any legitimate exemption request to the vaccine requirement for fall 2021 programs will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis at the request of the participant.
All participants sign specific documents to participate on our programs (Code of Conduct, Program Contract, Acknowledgements) where adherence to program rules is clearly outlined. As COVID-19 concerns persist, participants are also signing an Assumption of Risk document indicating that they will abide by local government rules and regulations as well as AIFS Abroad policies. Violations of these policies can result in removal from the program. Participants can expect additional information provided in pre-departure orientations and welcome orientations.
Absolutely. We have students on the ground right now for the spring semester! Our entire team is dedicated to organizing safe and life-changing opportunities for anyone wishing to participate in our programs. Colleagues in the US and overseas are in continual communication discussing program viability. We appreciate the enthusiasm that students have for future programs and mirror it with our own.
We are working hand in hand with partners such as overseas universities, housing providers, visa processors, host employers, excursion providers to adhere to all location and country-specific COVID-19 regulations. The changeable nature of the regulations necessitates a higher-level of responsibility from our team but also from our participants as well.
We realize that there is ongoing uncertainty as country-specific COVID-19 policies continue to evolve. The decision to make a financial commitment during this time is one we want you to feel comfortable with.
AIFS Abroad Refund Policy
Timeline for Student Withdrawals
If the student withdraws after final payment deadline and more than 60 days before departure
All payments minus the nonrefundable deposit and application fee of $845 and $1,000 and any flight cancellation charges
If the student withdraws after final payment deadline and 30 to 60 days before departure
All payments, minus the nonrefundable deposit and application fee of $845 and 50% of the program fee and any flight cancellation charges
If the student withdraws after final payment deadline and less than 30 days before departure
Timeline for Student Withdrawals from a GE Program
If a student withdraws more than 60 days before program start
100% refund (less deposit)
If a student withdraws between 30 and 60 days program start
50% refund (less deposit)
If a student withdraws within 30 days of program start
Recoverable costs only (less deposit)
We have been continually monitoring summer programming options and have pre-emptively made amendments to how and where we will be hosting students. However, we may make changes or may have to cancel programs after students have enrolled.
A list of programs we will run in Summer 2021 is here.
Please keep in mind that certain costs may be non-refundable (including but not limited to enrollment deposit). Depending on when the participant withdrawal occurs recoverable costs may/may not be able to be returned.
View AIFS Abroad Summer 2021 financial policies here: https://www.aifsabroad.com/details/
Different than if a student withdraws, circumstances may dictate that we cancel a program in a certain location.
If an on-location program is canceled by AIFS Abroad prior to the start date, participants will be able to:
Students choosing to leave the program early for personal or other reasons are not entitled to any refund. Completion of academic credit will be determined on a case by case basis. Students dismissed for disciplinary reasons receive no refunds of any kind and forfeit all academic credit.
There are no refunds for meals, accommodation, cultural activities/excursions, tuition or transportation missed by students for any other reasons other than those listed above once the program has started.
If your program is cancelled prior to it starting you can work with your AIFS Abroad advisor to determine what the best path forward is. You have the ability to:
Different than if a student withdraws, or AIFS Abroad cancels a program, a university may choose to cancel travel through a specific date or restrict travel to specific locations.
For Summer 2021 programs:
Should the university cancel or withdraw approval for study abroad prior to April 1 for reasons within its control (including due to lack of enrollment), please confirm cancellation by email to your regional representative as soon as possible. We will work together on options for deferring to a future program, enrolling in a virtual program, or a full refund (including deposit).
Should the university cancel or withdraw approval for study abroad after April 1 for reasons within its control (including due to lack of enrollment), please confirm cancellation by email to your regional representative as soon as possible. We will work together on options for deferring to a future program or enrolling in a virtual program. Any deposits or application fees will not be refunded.
For Fall 2021 programs:
The same policy applies and the key date is July 1.
If the university school requires Home School Approval we request that advisors approve or deny applications in the Advisor Portal by July 1.
Should a university cancel a program (including once the program has started) for reasons beyond its control including but not limited to Acts of God, government actions (including those restricting travel), pandemics, fire, flood, explosion, earthquake, or other natural forces, war, civil unrest, accident, terrorism, any strike or labor disturbance, or any other event similar to those enumerated above (a “force majeure” event) participants will receive no refund except for recoverable costs.
Recoverable costs may include, but not are not limited to program fees (including tuition), housing, social/cultural activities/excursions, safety and security and administrative cost, or organized flights. Most of these costs are paid before the start of the program and are not typically recoverable. In the event of cancellation AIFS Abroad will endeavor to obtain refunds from suppliers and pass any recovered costs on to the participant.
All participants on any AIFS Abroad program (study abroad, internship or custom faculty led) are covered by a very robust Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) travel and medical insurance as part of their program inclusions. There is no extra cost for this coverage. CISI has published a list of frequently asked questions related to COVID-19 that may be useful to you.
As part of the medical insurance, assistance and security will be provided by On Call International. OnCall has worked in the higher education field for over 20 years and is well known for their proactive and holistic approach to managing travel emergencies. They will provide phone support.
On Call’s Nurse Helpline is also available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This service is for those who aren’t sure if they are ill enough to see a doctor, but would like to seek advice over the phone from a medical professional. Not every illness or injury warrants a trip to the ER or a doctor’s office – this free service will help participants determine how best to treat whatever condition they may have.
Is additional insurance available for an extra fee?
AIFS Abroad strongly recommends that students take out CFAR / IFAR insurance which covers cancellation / interruption “for any reason”. Participants have the option of purchasing additional trip cancellation or interruption insurance which allows them to protect their study abroad program. This is at an additional cost and is NOT a program inclusion. This policy includes options to cancel for any reason (CFAR) and interrupt for any reason (IFAR). Details of the Worldwide Trip Protector Plans with travel insurance underwritten by the United States Fire Insurance Company, rated A (Excellent) by A.M. Best 2019, are available on the Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) website. Students may purchase their plan directly through the CISI website.
If you are currently proposing, or planning for a customized faculty-led (CFL) program with AIFS Abroad, please be in direct contact with your Program Manager. You can view relevant updates for all CFL programs here:
AIFS/GE Response to COVID-19
AIFS and GE offer programs in many locations around the globe. In all of these locations we will be working closely with our local representatives, local authorities, consular partners and university partners to make sure we are following the most up to date guidelines and procedures for COVID-19.
Countries requiring self-isolation / proof of negative test is an ever changing list.
Ensuring that students are tested before departure will be done by comprehensive pre-departure advising and in collaboration with our students who have a due-diligence to ensure they have done everything necessary to be eligible to travel. As COVID protocols continue to be developed by airlines and governments we will be amending our policies and advising our students accordingly.
Should students be required by host country's mandate to quarantine upon arrival then that will be a mandatory requirement to our program. Failure to adhere to quarantine protocols will result in expulsion from the program. AIFS Abroad will work within the variety of housing providers to ensure the health and well-being of our participants will be looked after. This could be from daily check-ins, meal delivery, etc.
AIFS Abroad uses a variety of housing options for students around the world. This could be student residences, apartments, hotels and homestays. Please indicate which types of student accommodation your organization will be using in 2021:
We are focusing our accommodation to be single occupancy but in some locations this is not possible. In locations where we use Student Residences / Apartment buildings we will be following their visitor restriction policies.
All host families receive additional training regarding COVID protocols for their local area. If someone in the house tests positive for COVID-19 then the appropriate officials will be contacted and the correct quarantine steps put in place. If the person is very ill then of course they will go straight to hospital. If they are well enough to stay at home they will be quarantined as well as other family members as required by the authorities. If needed we have access to additional accommodation so students can quarantine in private rooms if needed.
Students testing positive for COVID would be subject to immediate quarantine in their accommodation or in separate accommodation if required.
Meals/groceries would be arranged to be delivered in a safe and secure manner.
We work closely with our partner universities in each location who in turn are following all local guidelines so that students can safely attend class. These guidelines include practices such as caps on class size to allow for social distancing, spacing of desks to comply with current requirements, cleaning of classrooms regularly and high traffic areas, access to hand sanitizer at entrances, implementing one-way systems where practical, and enforcing mask wearing where obligatory. In our own facilities we will follow the same guidelines as required locally. These may change as local circumstances dictate.
If face to face classes need to be suspended for any reason we will be able to continue with a virtual delivery model allowing participants to finish the academic portion of the program (thereby not losing progress towards degree completion).
Much of our physical distancing protocols are being developed according to the governmental guidelines in each country and with our institutional and employer partners. This takes into account how many students are allowed in a classroom, how many individuals constitute a “pod” for social events/outings, how many participants can be in accommodations, how many individuals are allowed at a specific host company, etc.
Students should come prepared with enough masks to safely get through the first few weeks of their program. After students become familiar with their surroundings they will be able to communicate with on-site staff to organize additional PPE / sanitizing supplies as needed.
We are constantly monitoring the entry regulations for our countries which are fluid and change often. In all cases, we would defer to local regulations. These are legal requirements, not imposed by AIFS. Some of our countries have been requesting the negative test result as an entry requirement for some time although the U.S. only recently posted the request itself, so we have been monitoring and will communicate all requirements to our students.
AIFS Abroad will be strongly recommending vaccinations for our Summer 2021 participants and requiring them for our Fall 2021 participants and beyond. We will continue to monitor the information from our host countries and advise participants as entry protocol changes. Any legitimate exemption request to the vaccine requirement for Fall 2021 programs will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis at the request of the participant.
If you have additional questions about AIFS Abroad’s policies and procedures and you are a student please contact your program advisor or your enrollment manager. If you are a university advisor or administrator please contact your regional representative or CFL Program Manager. View a list of the team here: https://www.aifsabroad.com/our-team/