The Taylor University off-campus study abroad programs are designed to challenge students academically and spiritually by immersing them in a new culture.
However, these trips may look different this year with a new Taylor-mandated vaccine requirement.
With a variety of trips, the January Interterm (J-term) trips and study abroad semester programs provide a different experience than the traditional liberal arts education.
Currently, five international trips are being offered for the upcoming J-term. Students have the option to travel to Greece on two different trips, as well as Israel, Ecuador and Ireland.
As a university policy, any trip going out of the country requires a COVID-19 vaccination. Consequently, all students and faculty studying internationally over J-term and Spring semester must be vaccinated and have proof of vaccination.
The policy was approved by Taylor’s senior leadership.
“Taylor University has a strong history of international programs, so we wanted to do all we could to get students international,” Jeff Miller, assistant director of off-campus programs said. “Many schools are not operating international programs at all. The reasoning going into that decision was influenced by the new normal to global travel for COVID-19. The vaccine greatly reduces complications related to global travel such as getting groups in and out of museums, public settings and restaurants.”
While travel restrictions have varied throughout the pandemic and continue to evolve, individual businesses in other countries have the ability to make vaccine requirements.
Even with new restrictions, Taylor students are still interested in the study abroad programs. J-term trips are almost entirely booked, and semester study abroad signups have just begun. Ecuador, Lithuania and Uganda are among many that are gaining interest.
Attendance has not been affected by the changes in trip requirements.
“When one student drops out, another one takes their place pretty quickly,” said Miller. “I would hesitate to draw the distinction (for dropping out) at the vaccine requirement. Students have also moved due to complications with travel.”
The number of students participating in study abroad has varied over the years even before COVID-19.
Several domestic trips are also on the docket for this year including trips to Hawaii for biology, New England for literature, Florida for sustainability and New Mexico for student teaching. These trips were changed from their original international plan due to the preference of the faculty members.
The choice was ultimately up to the faculty member to decide on whether to attempt international travel or not.
It is unclear if vaccination will be required for study abroad in the fall of 2022. As COVID-19 cases and guidelines change, PeRT will reassess their requirements.