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Nations on travel-warning list may be open again to study-abroad students

Melissa Mitchell, News Editor


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Beginning this summer, students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign may be able to study abroad in countries with active travel warnings issued by the U.S. Department of State.

“The university will soon adopt a new policy by which student travel to regions of the world under U.S. State Department travel warnings will be considered on a case-by-case basis,” said Jeremy Geller, director of the U. of I.’s Study Abroad Office. Current policy prohibits university-sanctioned participation in study-abroad programs in all countries where travel warnings are in force.

Among those destinations most frequently requested by U. of I. students are Kenya and Israel, Geller said. Travel to Israel has been suspended since 2002, when the State Department issued its strongest warnings to date, as the result of an increase in attacks there attributed to terrorists.

In the future, students who wish to travel to regions with travel warnings must first seek permission from Student International Academic Affairs, Geller said. They also must complete and sign a waiver, stating that they understand the risks associated with such travel and take full responsibility for their personal safety while abroad.

In amending its travel policy, the university remains committed to two major priorities: making available to students the practical, international experience they need to become engaged, informed citizens of the world, and providing such opportunities in a manner that takes into consideration the students’ health, safety and well-being, Geller said.

Accomplishing both goals is essential, according to U. of I. Chancellor Richard Herman, who said he believes participation in international exchanges, programs and studies is critically important in today’s increasingly complex and interconnected world.

“As we prepare our students to lead a globalized world, Study Abroad allows them to learn firsthand about other cultures and peoples,” Herman said. “That cultural understanding simply can’t be developed without the immersion that comes with visiting another country.”