Fulbright program delayed amid coronavirus

The Fulbright US Student Program, which allows American scholars to conduct research and teach abroad, has delayed the start date of its 2020-21 season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“No research or [English teaching assistant] awards will be permitted to begin before January 1, 2020,” wrote Daniel Kramer, director of the program, in a statement sent to award-winners Tuesday.

The news throws a wrench into the plans of students across the country. Erin McHugh, a Fulbright award recipient who is graduating next month from Boston College, hopes she’ll eventually be able to participate. In the meantime, she says, she has to find a job.

The postponement increases the number of participants stripped of the immediate opportunity to work or research in host countries. A 2019-20 group saw their grants cut short on March 19.

Only “if the travel and health warnings for each country are reduced to a level that permits exchanges to take place” will participants embark on their grants, Kramer wrote.

Even the January start date is in question.The Fulbright program is conditional on the COVID-19 status of both the United States and 160 partner countries.

Started in 1946, the Fulbright Program has operated as one of the world’s preeminent international education exchange programs and is sponsored by the US government. It sends about 8,000 American-born scholars abroad every year, either to research or teach English. In exchange, foreign scholars from countries with whom the United States has established a partnership also receive funding to study here.

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