The Mirror reported last week that due to a limited number of programs in the face of COVID-19, some biology majors must come to terms with their canceled plans for study abroad. Unfortunately, these students are facing more than the disappointment of their canceled program—on top of it, these students are not being refunded their deposit fee for their study abroad application.
The fact of the matter is that, as an institution, Fairfield University should be held accountable, especially in a circumstance such as this. Studying abroad is not cheap by any means, so it should not be the case that these students are being left on their own without a proper financial plan.
By this point, we’re all sick of hearing how “unprecedented” things are during COVID. We all know it—students and the University alike.
Since the University did not implement a proper backup financial plan by now—two whole years since the COVID era began—it is completely their responsibility to relinquish these deposit fees.
“A prestigious university such as Fairfield should be able to reward students with these opportunities and have a plan prepared in case things go awry,” says Elizabeth Kabalian, a senior student who had applied to study abroad during the start of Covid-19.
“This should include refunding students who put a deposit down on the study abroad programs that have now been canceled due to the pandemic,” says Kabalian. “You don’t know what these students are experiencing at home and they may need that refund to support their families and pay for other important expenses.”
Some students are incredibly fortunate to have study abroad programs paid for by family, but the individuals who had to put money aside themselves for the study abroad experience now find themselves in an incredibly difficult financial situation. Fairfield’s refusal to refund these deposit fees could, as a result, come with long lasting economic impacts—that, again, is an unforeseen burden put upon the student.
Whether study abroad is paid for by the student in question or their parents, what it really comes down to is that, as an institution which is very financially stable, Fairfield University has a responsibility to surrender these funds. All universities, to an extent, are businesses—and, as many of us are aware, running a business comes with inherent risks.
In this case, that risk came with conducting a study abroad program. Fairfield University should instead make the student their focus of service; the effort put towards making excuses should be spent considering how to build trust with these affected students and help them move forward.
The study abroad experience is not only incredibly rewarding but, for some, is a lifetime milestone. To keep study abroad both gratifying and accessible to the next generation of Stags, the university must make it clear that the program isn’t a gamble of both your time and money.