As West Africa continues to fight the spread of Ebola, colleges and universities are tightening restrictions on where students and professors can study abroad and do research.
The International Business Times reports that universities across the country are prohibiting students from heading to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia — the three countries hit hardest by the epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control currently advises all Americans to avoid nonessential travel to the region while also noting that “education-related travel to these counties should be postponed until further notice.”
Columbia University announced its travel ban earlier this month, citing the CDC advisory. “Accordingly, all Columbia students, faculty and staff must avoid travel to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia,” the university said in a statement. “Students will not receive credit or funding for activities involving travel in these countries, and student groups are not permitted to visit any of them.”
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Columbia is also among the universities that have said that they will make exceptions for faculty members going to West Africa for humanitarian reasons.
One faculty member who is traveling to Liberia to help stop Ebola is Trish Henwood, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Henwood is getting ready to work with the International Medical Corps in Bong County, Liberia - which is about 4 hours north of Monrovia. "I realize risks are associated with it, but they are calculated risks, and I feel like I have the right training and background,” she recently told the Philadelphia Inquirer in explaining her decision.
The University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown have also issued student travel restrictions.