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Although all Yale-sponsored study abroad remains suspended indefinitely, the University has made an exception for international students who enroll in universities abroad that offer some components of in-person education.

Shortly after Yale’s plans for the fall — which included a ban on University-sponsored international travel — were released in July, administrators decided to allow international students to enroll in other institutions for the fall. These students are treated as if they are on a standard term-time study abroad and can earn four Yale credits. According to Director of Study Abroad Kelly McLaughlin, there are 23 international students enrolled abroad, most of whom are studying at Oxford University, Yale-NUS and Hong Kong University.

“While the current semester poses certain challenges for every Yale student, our international students, who may or may not have been able to enter the U.S. for the fall term even if they had wanted to, could easily find themselves in time zones and with technological challenges that would make taking Yale courses online especially challenging,” McLaughlin wrote in an email to the News. “Yale College leadership felt it important and sensible, therefore, to offer this opportunity to help safeguard the academic progress of students who found themselves in this difficult situation.”

According to Dean of International and Professional Experience Jane Edwards, Yale administrators — including herself, Yale College Dean Marvin Chun and Vice President Pericles Lewis — came to this decision to avoid the visa issues raised this past summer and mitigate safety concerns regarding international travel. For this reason, first-year students and first-semester seniors may study abroad as well, unlike in a typical Yale-sponsored study abroad program.

This opportunity is not officially listed on Yale’s study abroad website, but an email sent out during the summer informed international students of their eligibility to study abroad.

Carla Decombes ’23, a French international student, initially wanted to take a gap semester when she learned about Yale’s plans for the fall. But when she was accepted into the Oxford Study Abroad Program (OSAP) and learned that she could get Yale credit by treating it like a study abroad, she decided to enroll. Decombes is one of eight Yale students currently enrolled in OSAP.

Classes have not yet begun at Oxford, but when they do, they will be in person. Oxford uses a tutorial system, in which students learn one-on-one with their professors. Decombes told the News she is “very excited” to experience this new style of learning.

“This is the best thing I could do with my time,” Decombes said. “And it’s an experience I would never have had if COVID hadn’t happened. And just Oxford is amazing, it’s not very far from France and it’s a wonderful program where I can study in a very different way than I studied at Yale.”

Brian Wong ’25 was planning to start at Yale this fall but decided to take a gap year instead since he wanted to spend four years in New Haven. In his gap year, Wong is studying at Hong Kong University and is one of a group of Yalies enrolled there for the semester. According to Wong, taking a gap year gives him more freedom to travel or get a job in the spring.

Wong, who is from Hong Kong, is currently enrolled in a special program at HKU meant specifically for local students whose overseas study plans were affected by COVID-19. Wong hopes that when he arrives at Yale next fall, he will be able to transfer at least two course credits from HKU.

“I personally am not a fan of online classes, I find it harder to engage in meaningful class discussions online,” Wong said. “[At HKU] there are a number of classes online, even in person classes are fully offered online. So things are not totally back to normal. But I feel like it’d be better than at Yale, because all classes there would be online for me.”

Dean Marvin Chun announced Oct. 5 all University-sponsored travel would be suspended for the spring semester.

Amelia Davidson | amelia.davidson@yale.edu

Amelia Davidson currently serves as University Editor for the Yale Daily News. She previously covered admissions, financial aid and alumni as a staff reporter. Originally from the Washington D.C. area, she is a sophomore in Pauli Murray College majoring in American studies.