International Office

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FAQs outgoing students winter semester 20/21

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Last update: September 24, 2020, 10:20 am

Based on a careful evaluation of the situation and the continuing global uncertainties regarding travel restrictions, visa applications and the associated planning challenges for nominated exchange students, WU recommends (incoming and outgoing) students not to pursue their exchange on site in the winter semester 2020/21 but to also consider potential alternatives, where available.

Wherever possible, we will work with students and partner universities on finding suitable alternatives. Students who decide to continue pursuing their exchange semester in winter semester 2020/21 are welcome to do so, but have to be aware of the risks involved. In case of additional  questions, students are invited to contact their WU International Office coordinator.

Why did WU issue the recommendation?

Over the last weeks, we have carefully monitored the situation and been in contact with our partner universities and our international networks. Currently, the bigger picture shows us that the development of the pandemic remains unclear and that this has an impact on travel restrictions, visa processes, as well as on access to proper medical health care. This makes a proper planning of the exchange semester difficult, if not impossible.

Under normal circumstances, we would expect our students to plan their exchange semester as early as possible - always with the aim to make the most out of their exchange and to be prepared for the intercultural learning experience. Unfortunately, the current situation does not allow for proper planning. Housing and travel reservations, for example, are not possible at the moment. Given the fact that the situation is beyond the control of higher education institutions, we cannot give any guarantees that the exchange can take place on a regular basis.

The decision was finally influenced by the situation in spring 2020: Due to the COVID-19 situation, many students had to return home early from their exchange study destinations, which led to several financial, logistical and other issues.

All these considerations resulted in the recommendation issued by WU. This also gives the time and opportunity to discuss and plan alternatives in a timely manner with our students and partner institutions.

Finally, please note that we issued a recommendation, not a cancelation of the exchange programs. If you decide to continue with your exchange study plans, we are happy to support you. However, please be aware of the current uncertainties and risks, which we can unfortunately not influence or avoid.

At this point, we would like to highlight again that for WU, as an internationally oriented institution committed to international exchange, it is disappointing to see that the COVID situation had such an impact on student mobility. It is also bitter for us to give such a recommendation. However, we feel that it is our responsibility to advise students in the best possible way and to work with them on alternatives in a timely manner - rather than leaving them alone to take decisions.

Why was the recommendation issued now?

  • We promised all students to give an update about the situation in the beginning of May. Typically, this is the period when students start to plan the details of their exchange semester, including travel and accommodation reservations, visa formalities, and all aspects concerning academics.

  • By issuing the recommendation now, we have the opportunity to work with our students in a timely manner and discuss potential alternatives.


What are the alternatives?

  • We have outlined the alternatives to all nominated exchange students in the e-mail you have received from your regional coordinator.


Does this mean that WU is cancelling the exchange program for the winter semester 20/21? Am I forced to withdraw from the exchange semester?

  • No, but please be aware of the existing uncertainty of the situation and potential risks of travel restrictions and similar measures to take effect on short notice. If you decide to still pursue your exchange semester, we will of course support you and it will also be possible to receive mobility grants and have credits transferred.


I plan to postpone my exchange semester to a later semester. Do I have to take the intercultural skills seminar again?

Despite WU’s recommendation, I would still like to spend an exchange semester abroad in winter semester 2020/21? Am I allowed to do so?

  • Yes. WU issued a recommendation because we cannot give any guarantees and because there are uncertainties and potential risks involved. However – and in line with our general policies – we do not cancel the exchange programs. If you decide to continue planning your exchange semester, we are happy to support you. In any case, we remind you not to make any binding reservations at this stage.


Which risks should I be aware of if I plan to spend my exchange semester?

With the global COVID-19 pandemic, there are several points that you should consider when you plan your exchange in winter semester 2020/21. In the beginning of May, WU issued a recommendation for students not to pursue their exchange semester on site. We want to point out that this was a recommendation and not a cancelation. If you wish to pursue your exchange, you are welcome to do so and WU’s International Office will happily support you, but you should be aware of the risks involved.

The list below is not exhaustive but can give you assistance:

  • Keep in mind that travel restrictions can affect your plans. Further, it is possible that mandatory quarantines and/or airline route cancelations may be implemented.

  • Make yourself familiar with cancelation terms when booking flights and accommodation. Some policies may not cover cancelations due to COVID-19. If possible, we advise to complete such bookings on a short notice and not in advance.

  • Visa: if you need a visa for travelling to your host university, kindly note that currently many consulates do not handle visa applications and/or delays might occur in handling visa applications. Please monitor the travel/entry information published by your home and host country (typically the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

  • In case of a sudden increase in COVID19 cases be prepared that appropriate measures will be taken in your host country/at your host university (temporary lockdowns and reduction of social/cultural activities, transition of lectures to online/distance learning formats, and similar).

  • Discuss your exchange plans with your family and friends. If you feel unsafe, talk with the exchange coordinator at your home university to find alternative solutions.


Will I get financial support in form of a grant? Can I still transfer my credits if I go abroad?

  • Yes. If you still decide to pursue your exchange semester, it will also be possible to receive mobility grants and have credits transferred, given that the exchange semester is completed successfully.

  • Only if your exchange takes place physically, you will be able to receive either an Erasmus or a Joint Study grant. A virtual exchange is not supported. For outgoing students, scholarship and credit transfer information has already been sent to all nominated students.

  • For the winter semester 20/21, bachelor students can inform themselves about financial support by clicking here. Information for master students can be found here.


When will I receive my first payment of the Joint Study grant?

  • For the winter semester 2020/21, you will receive the first installment of your Joint Study grant after you have arrived at the partner university and send the signed Certificate of Arrival to Ms. Martina Stalitzer, our grant coordinator.


Important aspects to keep in mind regarding the Erasmus+ grant:

  • Please ask your host university to confirm both your physical stay at the host university, as well as your virtual participation in the exchange.

  • If you decide to start your exchange semester even if the Austrian Foreign Ministry issued a travel warning (level 5 or 6) for your guest country please be informed that in the event of an emergency related to COVID-19, the Erasmus+ program does not cover any additional costs / special costs.

  • If you return earlier and complete the semester in distance-learning from home, a portion of the Erasmus+ grant already received may be reclaimed, since the actual amount of the grant is based on the days spent in the host country.


When will I receive my first payment of the Joint Study grant?

  • For the winter semester 2020/21, you will receive the first installment of your Joint Study grant after you have arrived at the partner university and send the signed Certificate of Arrival to Ms. Martina Stalitzer, our grant coordinator.


I would like to postpone my exchange semester. What shall I do?

  • Please contact your International Office coordinator. We will get in touch with the partner university and discuss this option with them. Should the partner institution agree to a postponement, your exchange semester will be shifted to a later period.

  • Unfortunately, also in this case, we have to remind you that the current situation around COVID-19 still does not allow for definitive statements about future semesters. However, we are confident that we will have a clearer picture about the overall situation in autumn. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will contact you should circumstances change.

  • At master level, we can only offer the opportunity to postpone the exchange semester if the partner university agrees and your study program structure makes a postponement possible.


What happens if the partner university does not agree to a postponement of the exchange semester?

  • For undergraduate students: Please inform us by May 31 at the latest if you wish to postpone your exchange semester. If your partner university does not agree to a postponement, we will, if you wish, examine together with all students in question the possibility of spending a semester abroad at another partner university. Please understand that we will only be able to provide you with information on possible alternative destinations by mid-​June. If you want to postpone your semester after that, it won’t be able to shift to an alternative destination.

  • For graduate/master students: Unfortunately, we cannot offer this possibility given the diversity of master programs and the issues involved. At master level, we can therefore only offer the opportunity to postpone the exchange semester if the partner university agrees and your study program structure makes a postponement possible.


WU asked me to get back by May 31, 2020. What happens if I change my mind afterwards?

  • We kindly ask all students to carefully consider the options (deferring to a later exchange semester, going to partner university for physical exchange, attending distance learning courses at partner university, or withdrawal), and decide which option works out best for them. Of course, you are welcome to discuss the options and your thoughts with us.

  • We ask you to do so by the end of May in order to be able to best support you and work out the best possible solution for you. The sooner you get back to us the better for everyone. Our aim in proceeding this way is to give some clarity to students despite the uncertainties we are all facing at the moment.

  • Should you communicate a decision and change your mind afterwards, we will of course try to accommodate your needs in the best way possible. However, please be aware that the choice of alternatives, especially the possibility to defer the exchange semester to summer semester 2021, might be limited then. Also, we won't be able to offer you alternative exchange destinations after end of May.


What happens if I decide to go ahead with planning my exchange semester in the winter semester and the situation changes and I won’t be able to go after all? Can I still postpone my exchange semester to a later stay?

  • If you inform us AFTER May 31 about your wish to postpone your exchange semester, we will certainly get in touch with your partner university to see if this is still possible. In case the partner university does not agree to a postponement, you can still withdraw from the exchange program and apply again during an upcoming application period. Please bear in mind that we cannot offer any alternative destinations in such a case.


If I decide to postpone my semester abroad now and travel restrictions will be lifted earlier than expected, would I still be able to change my mind and start with the semester as planned in the winter semester 2020?

  • No. Once you received the positive answer regarding a postponement or a potential alternative destination, it won’t be possible to change back to your initial plan. Please understand that changing semester dates and/or destinations requires effort on boths sides. We therefore kindly ask you to consider your options carefully.


If I decide to continue with the planning of my exchange semester and decide to withdraw at a later stage, can I do so and what will happen in this case?

  • According to our standard procedures, withdrawals at a later stage remain possible. However, note that in this case we would not be able to work with you on alternative solutions for an exchange semester. In case of a withdrawal at a later stage, you are still allowed to apply again for an exchange semester at one of the application periods following the withdrawal.  


I need my exchange semester for the IBW international experience (IBW-​Auslandserfahrung). What happens if my partner university cancels the exchange or if I decide not to go abroad? Can I still finish my IBW studies?

  • Yes, WU has passed a special COVID-​19 regulation in the curriculum for the WU Bachelor’s program Business, Economics and Social Science (major International Business Administration). This regulation only applies to students who have been nominated for an exchange in the winter semester 2020/21 or in the summer semester 2021.

  • If you cannot take up your studies abroad due to COVID-​19, you can complete the bachelor's program without proof of experience abroad. The same applies to you if you do not want to go abroad for personal reasons associated with COVID-​19. Please inform your WU regional coordinator if you decide to opt for this regulation.

  • Please note that IBW students have to complete the course "Cross-Cultural Competence" (German: Interkulturelle Kompetenz) as it is a curriculum-specific module. Even if the exchange cannot be taken up or gets cancelled, IBW students are required to complete this course. This is also the case with the special COVID-19 regulation.

  • Under this special regulation, students can complete their studies any time - even in a few years from now. In any case, students are subject to this regulation if they meet the requirement that they were originally nominated for a semester abroad in winter semester 2020/21 or summer semester 2021.

  • This special regulation also applies to students of International Business Administration and Chinese as well as to students of all other individual study programs.


For students originally nominated for the summer semester 2021 and whose semester abroad was cancelled by the partner university:

  • Unfortunately, we can not provide alternative places. If you wish, you can reapply during the winter semester 2020/21 for an exchange semester in the winter semester 2020/21. If you do not get a place, you can still accept the special regulation for the IBW international experience.

  • If the partner university offers an alternative distance-​learning program, it is possible to confirm the credits earned as IBW international experience.

  • If you get selected for an exchange program taking place during winter semester 2021/22, you become subject to the rules that are valid for winter semester 2021/22. This means that you have to complete the “IBW international experience” (IBW-Auslandserfahrung). Keep this in mind, in case you later decide to withdraw from the exchange program. The exception defined in the first bullet point above is currently available only for those outgoing students who are selected for an exchange program during the winter semester 2020/21 or the summer semester 2021.


Please make sure to inform your WU regional coordinator if you should change plans.

My host university cancelled in-person exchange and offers all courses remotely. Do I have to take a full workload of courses at my host university? May I instead take only 2 or 3 courses at my host university and the remaining courses here at WU?

  • Yes, as long as your host university allows it, you do NOT have to take a full workload at your host university. You can opt for a combination of host-university-courses and WU-courses. If you are a student with major in International Business Administration (IBW), you will still be able to complete your studies without fulfilling the official requirements for the “International Experience” (IBW-Auslandsefahrung). Please see the COVID-19 regulation mentioned in this FAQ for more details. Also note that with the speical regulation, your exchange semester will not appear on your Diploma Supplement upon graduation.


In the winter semester, I plan to participate in online courses. Can I use the earned credits for my "IBW-Auslandserfahrung"?

Yes. For the winter semester 20/21, you can use these credits to prove your "IBW-Auslandserfahrung" and transfer them, for example, as international course. For this purpose, you can either earn credits in a distance-learning semester at your partner university or you complete single/multiple courses within an online course initiative, such as the ENGAGE.EU Online Exchange Initiative or the CBS-HSG-WU Online Course Initiative.