As we are sure you can imagine, the impact of COVID-19 on student exchange programs worldwide has been enormous, with many students having to cut their programs short, and many others having to cancel or defer their 2020 departures. It has been a difficult time, and we are very thankful for our families, partners and staff who have navigated these unchartered territories together.
Although Australia’s and New Zealand’s borders currently remain closed, we are very optimistic that our programs will be going ahead in the near future. In very exciting news, European and American students started travelling again in August 2020, still experiencing their world even during this global pandemic. Host Families are still opening their doors and welcoming these students into their homes and into their hearts. It has been wonderful to see so many people sharing one another’s cultures once again.
SCCE is still providing and organising 2021 programs for both students who want to travel overseas, and for students who want to come to Australia and New Zealand and live with a host family here on our shores.
When our students apply, we request that they come into the program with a Plan B in mind. We are operating with our steadfast optimism that the borders will open, but we will also be prepared should the program need to be changed or deferred. Please find an FAQ list below that will hopefully answer any questions you may have about our course of action should the latter be the case. You can also contact our office should you like to discuss anything further.
We sincerely hope that the government offers a clear plan of action that will allow us to make more concrete plans for our exchange programs. As we all know, one of the toughest aspects of this global pandemic is that the worldwide environment is continually changing. We will continue to monitor those changes and keep in touch with our applicants throughout.
Thank you very much for your interest in student exchange. We sincerely hope that we are very close to providing the opportunity for students to safely travel the world once again, experiencing new cultures, and ultimately becoming wonderful empathetic global citizens.
IN THE EVENT THAT YOUR 2021 PROGRAM IS DELAYED, THERE WILL BE FOUR OPTIONS TO CONSIDER*:
- Option 1: Delay your departure to the next available similar program (Eg: January 2021 Semester program is delayed to an August 2021 Semester program)
- Option 2: Delay your departure to a different duration that will suit your schedule (Eg: January 2021 Semester program is delayed to a 3-month October 2022 departure)
- Option 3: In the event that our borders are open but those of your destination are not, consider transferring to a destination that is available
- Option 4: Receive a voucher which can be redeemed within 180 days or can be transferred to a sibling or friend
*Please note, when you apply to go on exchange with SCCE you are assigned Program Manager that is a specialist on your destination. In all situations, check with your Program Manager for the next available departure dates for your destination country of choice.
PLEASE CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING FAQs:
If I choose to go on a shorter program, will my fees be reduced accordingly?
Yes, your fees will be adjusted to reflect the difference in pricing structure between programs and you will not be charged a change fee.
If I choose to delay my departure will my program be shortened?
No, we will work with our partners around the world to make sure that your program duration is not shortened.
I would like to go on a shorter program, but this is not currently offered by the host country – what are my options?
Speak to your program manager as many partners are willing to offer shorter programs during the year to suit your needs. You may also consider an alternative host country or an alternative program.
Will I have to gain permission from my Australian school to change my program?
SCCE advises that you contact your school to discuss the proposed change in program.
What if the school does not support the change?
The Student Exchange Program is an independent program. SCCE advises that you liaise with your school to address any concerns they may have. Our program managers may be able to assist you in this regard by contacting the school directly.
What if my new flight is cancelled?
Flight cancellations are the nature of international travel. If your flight is cancelled, normal airline procedures will take place and you will be booked on the next alternative flight.
Can I pause my payments until the program departure is confirmed?
Payments should be made in line with the Term and Conditions. Changes to the payment plan may compromise the program processing timeline. Please contact your program manager to discuss variation to your payment plan if your circumstances require.
I am no longer comfortable to go to the country I originally chose – can I change programs and destinations?
You may have the opportunity to change your host country depending on the stage of your current application. Please contact your program manager to discuss what options are available to you.
If my program is deferred could the program price increase?
No, the program price will stay the same unless flight prices increase considerably in the future, which could mean a flight surcharge will be applied.
I can’t make up my mind – Can I choose the Voucher for monies paid to be used at a later date?
Yes, if you do not wish to select an option at this point in time then you will receive a Voucher which can be redeemed within 180 days of the program deferral date. If your Voucher is not redeemed within 18 months, then you can apply to receive a cash refund as outlined in our refund policy. The amount received will be determined based on the date you received your Voucher.
Can I transfer my voucher to a sibling or friend?
Yes, if your child no longer wishes to go on exchange the voucher can be transferred to a sibling or friend.
If the program will not go ahead as scheduled and I am unable to select an alternative program, will I receive a refund?
Yes, you will receive a Voucher which can be redeemed within 180 days (or which can be transferred to a sibling or friend). SCCE is following the travel law principles issued by the ACCC. Consumer Rights information can be found at: https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/covid-19-coronavirus-information-for-consumers#travel-cancellations-and-changes
When will I receive the Voucher?
You will receive the Voucher within 10 working days of informing SCCE.
What happens if SCCE cancels the program?
If the cancellation is due to ‘Force Majeure’ or due to government restrictions, we will provide you with a voucher as stated above. For further information on your consumer rights contact: https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/covid-19-coronavirus-information-for-consumers
What will my insurance cover?
Students are provided with personal accident and medical coverage, as well as travel, baggage, cancellation and public liability insurance while participating in the program. Natural parents/guardians should review the policy to ensure the cover is adequate for the student. Some exclusion for special or pre-existing conditions apply.
Will my insurance cover COVID-19 related claims?
Your AIG insurance will cover you for medical costs relating to COVID-19. In regards to travel cancellation insurance, if you were accepted onto your program and paid your 1st instalment prior to 2nd March 2020 then each claim will be considered on its merits taking into account the individual circumstances of COVID-19, please contact the insurer
AIG: 1800 017 682 or email@example.com.
If you were accepted onto your program and paid your 1st instalment on or after 2nd March 2020 you will not be covered for any travel insurance claim in connection with COVID-19.
Please contact SCCE should you like to discuss anything here: