SIT Study Abroad welcomes 164 students on 19 summer programs

Announcement Date: June 24, 2021

Four U.S. students gather around a boat on dry land as local guides speak about them.
Students on an SIT Uganda summer program prepare to cross the Nile River in a wooden boat to visit a neighboring community where villagers access clean water through a solar-powered electronic card system.

SIT Study Abroad has welcomed 164 students on 19 summer programs this year, including 65 students on immersive programs in six countries, and 99 students on virtual language programs and internships.

The enrollment marks a 140 percent increase over last summer, when SIT offered just 10 programs, all of them virtual, with a total of 68 students.   

“This summer’s enrollment is an encouraging sign that undergraduate students remain committed to getting life-changing study abroad experience, whether virtual or on the ground,” said SIT President Dr. Sophia Howlett.  

The students—from 84 colleges and universities throughout the United States, plus 12 who are not current students—are enrolled in 12 SIT virtual programs and seven programs in country.  

The most popular on-site location for summer students is Iceland, where SIT’s Renewable Energy, Technology, and Resource Economics program accepted 25 undergraduates. Eleven students are on International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy, which was moved from Switzerland to Spain; while the remaining 30 students are on programs in Ghana, Jordan, South Africa, and Uganda.

SIT’s on-site offerings this summer reflect ongoing changes in pandemic safety and loosening travel restrictions in some parts of the world, according to Michael Zoll, SIT dean of Student Health, Safety and Well-being. “SIT’s most important priority is the safety, health and security of its students,” he said. “We do extensive pre-departure risk assessments and develop comprehensive contingency plans for each of our programs.”  

Zoll said SIT’s global network of program centers gives the organization the flexibility to change venues quickly when necessary. That was the case this summer when programs originally set for Kenya, Madagascar, and Switzerland were moved to Uganda, Ghana, and Spain, respectively.  

SIT’s Risk Assessment Committee conducts daily COVID-19 assessments and related travel restrictions for all the countries where programs are operating. The committee tracks the pandemic through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization, the U.S. State Department, International SOS, and local health advisories and government communiques.  

Experienced host-country faculty and staff also monitor the situation through their extensive networks of contacts, which include local authorities and U.S. embassies.  

Virtual programs also continue to remain popular. Among the 12 offered this summer are four language programs—Arabic in Jordan; Hindi in India; Quechua in Peru; and Tibetan in Nepal—and eight internships. 

SIT programs are categorized according to seven Critical Global Issues areas. Of those, most summer students (30 percent) are enrolled in programs that address Identity and Human Resilience; 24 percent are in programs focused on Climate and the Environment; 22 percent in Geopolitics and Power; and 16 percent in Global Health and Well-being.  

SIT Study Abroad currently plans to run more than 50 immersive and virtual study abroad programs in fall 2021.