U of T has confirmed that, following a relaxation in border restrictions, students will now be able to travel internationally for university learning abroad programs again. 

Relaxed restrictions

In December, the University of Toronto cancelled study abroad programs planned for winter 2022 due to the rise in COVID-19 cases and the Omicron variant. However, on February 15, the Government of Canada announced a relaxation on border restrictions. Thus, many study abroad programs might be back on for the semester. 

An announcement from the Public Health Agency of Canada outlines that, as of February 28, Canadians are no longer advised to “​​avoid travel for non-essential purposes.” The decision also includes a note that arriving travellers may present either a rapid antigen test or a molecular test result, and are no longer expected to quarantine until the release of arrival test results.

Following the news, U of T updated the Learning Abroad website, declaring that students will be able to travel abroad as of that date, which a university spokesperson also confirmed in an email to The Varsity

Cancelled programs 

The spokesperson claimed that students who were planning to go abroad were being contacted by the university’s learning abroad team to reschedule their trips, which will depend on “the timing of the experience and the organization’s ability to host students.” 

When study abroad programs initially got cancelled, many students who had planned to go abroad were extremely frustrated, not only about being unable to participate in the program that they had long been preparing for, but also because of the university’s approach to the situation. Another point of frustration for students who had their programs cancelled was the impact on their financial plans.

The university reaffirmed its commitment to supporting students by directing $1.5 million in federal funds to exchange programs, as well as providing a series of awards that include compensation for that purpose. 

Health and safety 

According to the Canadian government’s website, the Public Health Agency of Canada’s decision was based on the decline of COVID-19 hospitalizations and the rise in vaccination, testing, and treatment, focusing on a long-term plan for the pandemic. 

U of T Student Safety Abroad was also reopened on February 28. The platform aims to monitor and prepare for risks and offer support for students studying abroad in case of any issues. All students participating in study abroad programs are required to register for it.