Fulbright opens doors to students with disrupted study abroad plan


On May 19th, Fulbright University Vietnam (Fulbright) launches the Fulbright Visiting Student Program, an initiative that supports students whose study abroad plans have been disrupted because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the world is facing a possible second wave of coronavirus infections this fall-winter, many universities in epidemic-stricken countries are forced to consider closing their campuses until the end of the year. California State University, America’s largest four-year public university system, recently announced that classes at its 23 campuses would be canceled for the fall semester, with instruction taking place almost exclusively online. Harvard Medical School, McGill University (Canada) and many others have announced similar changes. These decisions have the potential to disrupt the plans of many thousands of incoming students, whose plans to study abroad are now uncertain.

Understandably, some parents are not willing to send their children far away from home this fall, even to universities which will remain open amid the pandemic in America or in Europe. In this ongoing crisis, there are countless unpredictable risks that cause their unease, especially when they witnessed thousands of Vietnamese students trapped in a foreign country and left homeless when their dormitories were closed, and international flights were canceled.

Although our Spring admissions cycle ended and Fulbright definitely does not encourage students to give up their opportunities to study at top international universities that they have worked extremely hard for, Fulbright understands and empathizes with the concerns of many Vietnamese families. We are deeply aware of our social responsibility to help find solutions to this crisis, including assisting students affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. That’s why Fulbright has decided to launch a visiting student program, even though it means that the University would have to expand its resources significantly,” says Ms. Dam Bich Thuy, President of Fulbright University Vietnam.

Applications for the Fulbright Visiting Students Program will be open from June 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020. To apply, students must demonstrate that (1) they have been admitted to a university outside of Vietnam but cannot enroll because of the Covid-19 pandemic; and (2) they wish to have a full-time educational experience at Fulbright during the 2020-2021 academic year.

These Visiting Students will not be automatically enrolled as Fulbright’s undergraduate students even though they will be issued transcripts for subjects they take during the 2020-2021 academic year. “The Fulbright Visiting Student Program is not an increased enrollment quota. It is designed to provide students an uninterrupted learning experience in an international academic environment amid the pandemic. After completing the program at Fulbright, students can start enrolling at the universities they were admitted, possibly in September of 2021”, explains Ms. Le Thi Quynh Tram, Fulbright’s Director of Admissions and Financial Aid.

Innovative solutions

“With this initiative, Fulbright once again demonstrates its role as a leading liberal arts university with a strong commitment to serving Vietnamese youth in particular and the society in general,” comments Dr. Bill Hiss, former Vice President and Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at Bates College, one of the top liberal arts colleges in the United States.

Endeavors to find innovative solutions to help Vietnamese students whose studies are impeded by Covid-19 remind Dr. Bill Hiss of a story that happened fifteen years ago, when several American colleges and universities pioneered the movement that supported students severely affected by Hurricane Katrina. One of the most outstanding initiatives was the visiting student program, where some American universities agreed to accept students from New Orleans universities, who had nowhere else to study due to the area being destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Thanks to this program, these students could continue their studies until their universities in New Orleans were reopened. The program, therefore, received positive feedback not only from the student community but from the American public in general.

“Fulbright University will strive to work with international universities where students have been accepted, to make sure they can transition smoothly and have fulfilling learning experiences,” says Dr. Dinh Vu Trang Ngan, Dean of Fulbright Undergraduate Studies.

The visiting student program is Fulbright’s most recent effort in a series of initiatives to support our community in overcoming the Covid-19 crisis. From the early days of the pandemic, Fulbright has been working closely with the Vietnamese Government to provide timely and efficient policy consultation in the fight against the virus. The University also initiated an open online discussion series with leading international academics and experts on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, providing transparent updates to help our community be best prepared for “a new normal” when the pandemic subsides.

The Vietnamese Government has been effectively controlling the spread and restoring the “normal life” much sooner than other countries. For that, Fulbright’s leader, Ms. Dam Bich Thuy, believes the University must live up to its responsibility in helping the young generation to continue pursuing higher education, regardless of where they choose to be.

“Covid-19 once again shows us the great value and importance of the community we all are building. More than ever, this is an opportunity for us to not only lend a hand to those in need, but also fulfill Fulbright’s original commitment towards high quality education for all Vietnamese students,” asserts the President of Fulbright University Vietnam.

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