Travel Ban Placed on London Students


The university has placed a mandate on the London campus, no longer permitting travel outside of the UK because of the pandemic. (Courtesy of Instagram)

For many students who study abroad, traveling to new places is a key part of the experience. However, travel beyond Great Britain is not permitted for students currently studying at Fordham’s London Centre. The travel ban is a university-enforced and university-created mandate. The goal is to limit COVID-19 transmission and prevent students from being exposed to the virus through travel. According to Emma Bainbridge, GSB ’23, a student at the London campus, residents face expulsion if they travel away from Great Britain.

“The reason Fordham has instituted travel restrictions is to reduce as much as possible the transmission of COVID-19 among the students and faculty at Fordham in London. The students who are studying in London were well-informed of the travel restrictions and agreed to them as a condition of the program,” said Robert Howe, assistant vice president for communications and special adviser to the president, in a statement to The Fordham Ram.

Many students at the London Centre campus have found this ban disruptive and inhibiting in their experience studying abroad. Bainbridge, who has taken an active role in advocating against the ban, created a petition urging Fordham to lift the travel ban. In addition to starting the petition, Bainbridge has also written a statement to university administrators presenting student perspectives against the travel ban.

According to Bainbridge, the petition has received over 300 signatures, more than the number of students currently studying in London.

The petition gained over 200 signatures the day it was posted.

“Every single student I have spoken to has shared the same sentiment. We all, collectively, want to have the travel ban lifted. We finally decided to do something about it, and here we are fighting this ban,” said Bainbridge.

The university argues that the travel ban is in place because of the omicron variant’s unique risks for the London campus.
According to Howe, unlike students on the New York campus, London students infected with COVID-19 would not be able to travel home to quarantine. Howe claims that because of this, a COVID-19 outbreak at the London campus would be harder to deal with, making a travel ban necessary.

However, many students on the London Centre campus find that the travel restrictions are unnecessary because they do not align with United Kingdom travel restrictions or rules.

On Feb. 11, Boris Johnson, prime minister of the United Kingdom, announced that all fully-vaccinated individuals would not have to test negative for COVID-19 to travel in or out of England and would not have to quarantine upon arrival. In addition to the government restrictions, Bainbridge also noted that Fordham seems to be one of the only college study abroad programs that has restrictions on travel.

In a statement written to the university, Bainbridge wrote that, “Notre Dame and Boston University’s London campuses have permitted their students to travel as they please.” Additionally, Bainbridge said that Syracuse University lifted its travel ban when Johnson announced the changes to travel protocol. Bainbridge and other Fordham London Centre  students have stated that these restrictions have affected their entire study abroad experience.

“As young adults that are soon graduating from Fordham, it is important that we are well-rounded and well educated. Part of our education that we wanted to pursue by going abroad was broadening our cultural horizons. Being able to travel would mean we could better grow into more well-rounded individuals. We could learn how people from different cultures live,” said Bainbridge.
According to Bainbridge, limiting student travel and their ability to experience other cultures goes against Fordham’s Jesuit values.

“As a Jesuit university, we have been encouraged to learn and experience through all realms of knowledge. Fordham University has always claimed to create a well-rounded individual, but they fall short of that claim with these rules,” said Bainbridge in the statement to university officials.

“These rules have not only stopped us from traveling but have cut short our possible education while abroad. Fordham London Centre’s arbitrary travel ban is inherently against what we stand for as a university.”

Fordham London Centre students have also noted that students have been living in a pandemic for two years. “We are intelligent young adults who should be allowed to make decisions for ourselves. We have been in a pandemic for two years now, so we know how to stay safe and healthy. We are capable of following COVID-19 protocols while traveling,” said Bainbridge in the statement.
Howe said that the university would consider lifting travel restrictions pending COVID-19 conditions.

“Fordham has managed to hold in-person classes during the pandemic without experiencing serious illness by responding quickly to evolving pandemic conditions. The university will consider loosening Fordham London travel restrictions when conditions permit,” said Howe.

However, this statement runs contrary to what students at the London campus have heard. In the statement to the university, Bainbridge claimed that in a pre-departure meeting, the university claimed “that nothing would make them lift it even if COVID-19 disappeared.”

Bainbridge and students at the London Centre campus hope that the university will hear their requests and reconsider the travel ban through the petition and written statement.