Message to Spring 2021 Outbound Exchange Students

Dear Students Planning to Study Abroad in Spring 2021,

I am writing today with an important announcement about Spring 2021 Study Abroad.

AIU has been collecting information about the global situation, including assessments from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs; infection rates, immigration restrictions, and visa processing limitations in our partner universities’ countries; international flight availability; as well as the decisions of our partner universities in preparation for resuming in-person student exchange in January 2021 or later. However, at this time we have determined that in-person study abroad is not possible at almost all of our partner universities.

At this time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued an Infection Risk Level 3: Do Not Travel warning for all of your study abroad destination countries and regions. Many countries, including the USA, the UK, France, and others are continuing to see an increase in infections and hospitalizations due to COVID-19. Additionally, many countries have imposed immigration restrictions or limitations against travelers from Japan or suspended processing of visa applications.

On the other hand, Japanese news media has reported that the government has started to consider lowering the Infection Risk Level for a few countries to Level 2: Avoid Non-Emergency, Unnecessary Travel, and there is a possibility of changes in the government’s stance moving forward. We will handle decisions related to these countries on an individual basis. However, since the emergence of COVID-19, AIU’s decision standard has been our mandate to secure the safety of the AIU community and to continue to provide a stable and excellent educational program, so we must carefully consider our approach to countries and regions at Infection Risk Level 2. Please understand that regardless of whether or not the Japanese government lowers its Infection Risk Level, there is a possibility that your study abroad country or university may refuse to accept international students, so we will continue to follow this information closely.

We recognize that some of you consider graduating in four years to be your top priority, while others have a strong desire to study abroad in person, even if it means delaying your graduation. We believe that AIU ought to respond flexibly to your various individual situations, so we have considered several options to present to you. For students who wish to prioritize graduation, in this emergency situation AIU will exempt you from your one-year study abroad graduation requirement if you complete one of the following Study Abroad Alternatives: A “Virtual Study Abroad” during the Spring 2021 semester or an “Independent Study: Study Abroad Alternative” approved by AIU. At this time, we do not know when or where it will be possible to study abroad in person again, but once it is possible to do so, AIU will provide students who have completed one of the Study Abroad Alternatives above with the opportunity to study abroad in person on exchange for a semester. Additionally, for students who want to participate in a full year of study abroad by any means necessary, you may also choose to withdraw your study abroad application and apply again for study abroad for the Fall 2021 Semester or later.

Although study abroad in person in spring 2021 is not possible, studying abroad in person is not the only way to prepare yourself to become a person who can succeed at an international level. I encourage you to keep an open mind to every opportunity you have, including participation in the study abroad alternatives, to advance your international studies and participate in activities that contribute to your future goals. In this time, while the whole world is facing an unprecedented danger, we must all fully dedicate ourselves to accomplishing what we can do now, while keeping our top priority on preserving our life and health. Let us all overcome the global crisis that is COVID-19 together.

Yoshitaka Kumagai
Vice President
Akita International University

AIU’s Response to Coronavirus

For up-to-date information on AIU’s response to COVID-19, please see our dedicated web page here.