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Summer International Travel Guidance for Students

Dear Academic Deans, Administrative Deans, and Center Directors,

As you know, Harvard-related international travel was prohibited as of March 6. This prohibition covers all members of the Harvard community (students, faculty, and staff) and currently extends through April 30. The Provost, HUHS Director, and Executive Vice President will announce tomorrow the extension of this prohibition through to the end of May.

In the meantime, faced with imminent decisions on summer programming and research funding, many of you have asked for guidance on Harvard-related student travel for the summer. I write now with that guidance, which has been developed in conversation with colleagues across multiple Schools, medical and public health experts, and Global Support Services, and is approved by the Provost (who will announce this as well tomorrow):

  • There should be no Harvard-organized or Harvard-funded international travel for students that is scheduled to start and end between now and August 31, 2020. This applies to undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students.

There will be one standing exception to the policy above: Students already outside the U.S. at the time of this memo may be funded for research or other activities in their present location. Such activity must take into account local/domestic travel restrictions, self-isolation/quarantine requirements, and lockdown orders. Students may not travel across a national border as part of a Harvard program or with Harvard funds.

Note that this guidance does not prohibit travel supported by grants and fellowships that ends after August 31, 2020. Although travel under such funds (such as year-long research fellowships abroad) currently remains prohibited, we recognize that recipients may be able to use these grants/fellowships in whole or in part once travel restrictions begin to be lifted (as we hope) in the coming months. Therefore, in award letters for grants supporting travel that ends after August 31, grantmakers should make clear that travel is prohibited at this time but may be permitted at some later date as circumstances evolve.

Many of you have already decided to cancel or postpone summer programming, internships, and grants. These decisions are difficult and disappointing, especially as withholding support may create hardship for some students. Where gift or grant terms permit, I encourage everyone to think creatively (as some of you already are) about how students might redesign summer projects in ways that could allow them to still receive funding. I am glad to work with you in that effort, including seeking guidance from the Office of General Counsel as to the flexibility of gift terms. We have already learned, for example, that the David Rockefeller Fund for Undergraduate International Experience can be used to support undergraduates this summer, even if no international travel happens, so long as their planned activities include research on an international topic. Now would be a good time to explore similar possibilities with the funding your centers manage.

The extraordinary events of the last few weeks have forced us all to make choices we would rather not make. As someone who cares deeply about international engagement and understanding, and who has advised scores of students who would have been or are currently affected by these policies, I deeply sympathize with the burdens that policies like these place on all of us. Thank you for your patience, wisdom, and resilience in responding to this unprecedented set of circumstances. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions.


Mark Elliott
Vice Provost for International Affairs

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