【Important】University Policy Regarding the Study Abroad (Overseas Travels after November 2022)
November 1, 2022
Dear Sophia students,
Sophia University regards the safety of our students our utmost importance and requires the Overseas Travel Safety/Infection Alert Level set by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA) to be lower than Level 1 for conducting outbound study abroad programs requiring physical travel including self-arranged study abroad.
For countries/areas with the Infection Alert Level 2 and above, it is still difficult to permit study abroad in conformity with the principle above. On the other hand, the environment for study abroad has improved with better access, and shift towards returning to normal living conditions seen in many countries. The University carefully considered the balance between educational benefits and the risk of participation in on-site study abroad and has been permitting students to study abroad where possible through individual screening since the Autumn semester of 2021.
While the University cannot be too optimistic about studying and traveling overseas under the COVID-19 infection situation, there are further improvements on vaccination rates as well as advancement in medical treatments and the world to be better coping with the virus to a certain degree. In addition, on October 19, the MOFA lowered the Infection Alert to Level 1 for all countries.
With this situation, after November 2022, Sophia has decided to have the Special Screening Criteria for Overseas Travel (Special Screening) as below.
Please also note that the MOFA Safety Alert Level must be lower than Level 1 regardless the Infection Alert Level and any overseas travel to countries/areas with Safety Level 2 or above will not be permitted.
1. Overseas travel which requires permission by the Special Screening
(1) Overseas travel which requires permission by the Special Screening regardless the Infection Level.
a. University-sponsored programs such as, short-term programs and internship courses offered by the Center for Global Education and Discovery
(2) Overseas travel to countries/areas with the Infection Level 2 or above which requires permission by the Special Screening (No country/area falls under this as of October 28, but students need to check the level at the time of preparation for the travel)
b. University Exchange Program, German-Japanese departmental exchange program
c. Self-arranged study abroad which requires submission of 留学願 (Request for Study Abroad) or 休学願 (Request for a Leave of Absence)
d. Overseas travel for educational and research purposes such as participation in academic conferences, fieldwork, visiting research institutions, internship courses not offered by the University, seminar camps, etc.
e. Short-term overseas travel including extracurricular activities that require notification to the University
【Main conditions for Special Screening】
- There are no restrictions (visa issuance for travel, etc.) for entering and staying in the destination country/area from Japan.
- The student is physically and mentally fit to study abroad and took the necessary preparations and measures for travel including vaccinations.
- The student understands the risks of staying abroad including the cost burden and has considered enough about risk management measures. Also, the student should make efforts to avoid risks and problems during traveling.
- The student purchases overseas travel insurance and crisis management support designated by the University. The student agrees as well to update contact information, destination information, and travel itinerary during travel aboard through specified website or application.
- The student agrees to follow the University’s requests and orders, such as returning to Japan.
2. Overseas travel without the Special Screening
(1) Things to keep in mind
Overseas travel other than those listed above will not be considered as a subject of special screening. However, please keep in mind of the following points, and make sure to understand the current risks and your own situation in advance. Also, please make a careful consideration on the appropriateness of the timing, destination, and activities at the destination for studying and traveling abroad, and make adequate preparations before departure by understanding below;
- The infection situation regarding COVID-19 is unpredictable and overseas travel remains to pose higher risks, and therefore requires more risk management measures than the situation prior to the pandemic.
- In some areas, the medical situation is severe, or the social situation may be unstable. Therefore, checking the local situation and analyzing/considering the risks and measures in advance is essential.
- It is essential to be attentive and take measures to reduce risks in terms of both infection and safety during study abroad.
- There is a risk that you will have to change the return schedule due to the infection, or the scheduled flight cancellation.
- The University will not make any special treatment/exceptions for classes at Sophia due to travel abroad or delay in returning to Japan.
- Based on the points above, utilize a Self-Check Sheet for Overseas Travel available from the University, and make a careful evaluation by considering whether there are appropriate reasons to travel abroad under the situation with higher risks than usual, and if you are adequately prepared and ready to accept the risks.
(2) Submission of the Self-Check Sheet
If you are planning to travel abroad under the category (2) b.-e. indicated above, make sure to check and complete the items on the Self-Check Sheet (for b. University Exchange Program, German-Japanese departmental exchange program, designated Pledge and other required documents) and attach it when submitting 留学願 (Request for Study Abroad) or 休学願 (Request for a Leave of Absence) etc. to the University as a proof that you have understood and prepared well for overseas travel. Please be careful that you will need to apply for a special screening if the level of your destination is raised before the start of your travel, even if you have already submitted the required documents. Furthermore, please also note that the permission of your travel will be canceled in case any violation on the matters you pledge stated in the documents.
For further information on how to apply for the Special Screening or for the form “Self Check Sheet”, please refer to Loyola.