University Policy Regarding the Study Aboard (Overseas Travels after June 2021)
June 4, 2021
Dear Sophia Students,
Sophia University regards the safety of our students our utmost importance, and is currently suspending all overseas study abroad programs including self-arranged study abroad. The University requires the Overseas Travel/infection Alert set by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA) to be lower than Level 1 for resuming outbound study abroad programs requiring physical travel.
Some countries/regions have achieved high vaccination rates or seen improvements in infection rates, and colleges/universities abroad have announced they expect to resume on-campus studies and are starting to accept international students on their campus. Sophia made a very careful consideration taking these different factors into account; however, as the global pandemic continues, and new variants appearing in different parts of the world, study abroad with international travel still bears high risks. The University has made a difficult decision to uphold its current policy that suspends all outbound student study abroad programs requiring physical travel to areas with the Overseas Travel/Infection Alert set by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA) with Level 2 or above. The University will continue to offer online study abroad programs where possible.
On the other hand, the University is also aware that some countries/regions have seen much improvements and are shifting towards returning to normal living conditions. The University carefully considered the balance between educational benefits and the risk of participation in on-site study abroad and has decided on a special exceptional measure to permit participation in the on-site exchange program where possible. This exceptional measure is limited to cases in which students participate in the university-wide exchange programs offered under the student exchange agreement in collaborations with Sophia's partner universities. The special measure is applicable only when all the designated conditions regarding situations at the host university, infection prevention and other risk management measures to be taken by the participant, are met. The participant must also agree with all the responsibilities, obligations, and liabilities for participating in an on-site program. It is expected that the number of applicable cases will be limited and does not mean that traveling is to be resumed at any wide scale.
For students planning on going abroad under the framework of the "General Study Abroad Program" or "Study Abroad during the Leave of Absence" (self-arranged study abroad), Sophia University continues to prohibit international travels to the countries/regions categorized by the MOFA Overseas Travel/infection Alert as Level 2 or above.
However, in case the Faculty and Department/Graduate School and Program approves that its student's study abroad plan as having fulfilled all required conditions for special measures for the exchange program and endorses to be carried out, the University may make an exception and permit the self-arranged study abroad plan.
In addition, in a case of self-arranged study abroad, students may resume with physical travel if the MOFA eases both alert levels for Overseas Travel and Overseas Infection to Level 1 or below for the study abroad destination, and when all of the following requirements are met by the earlier date of the two; 1) one month prior to the scheduled departure date, or 2) the deadline to submit the Request of Study Abroad / Leave of Absence. The student must also consult and gain permission from the Faculty and Department or Graduate School and Program.
- Both the MOFA Overseas Travel/infection alert levels of the destination country/region are at Level 1 or below.
- There are no restrictions (visa issuance for travel, etc) for entering and staying in the destination country/region when one travels from Japan.
- The student has reliable host institution at the destination, while making sure the institution is fully aware and has officially accepted the hosting during the program.
- The student purchases overseas travel insurance and crisis management support designated by the University.
- The student agrees to update contact information, destination information, and travel itinerary during travel aboard through the University designated website or application.
- The student agrees to follow the University's requests and orders, such as returning to Japan.
In the current novel coronavirus pandemic, the resurgences have been observed in areas where activity restrictions had once been lifted. The University may request the student to return to Japan even after the traveling is permitted, should the situation change.
While the University regrets the fact that its students have been unable to travel freely to experience the world for such a long period of time, we ask for your understanding that the safety of the students is always the University’s top priority, and we have made a very difficult decision based on this principle.