University of Sussex Art History Rome trip cancelled due to coronavirus

The trip was cancelled on Monday after FCO advised against travel to Italy.

The Art History department’s annual trip to Rome has been called off as of yesterday, as a result of the ongoing situation in Italy, where lockdown measures have been extended nationwide to control the outbreak of coronavirus.

Despite growing fears, the university tried to avoid cancelling the trip, which many students were looking forward to, and involves some elements of assessment for the Art History course. Over the last few weeks, those due to go on the trip received a string of emails assuring that it would still go ahead, and were told that the university was monitoring the situation in Italy closely.

It was stressed to students that no one would be pressured to attend, and alternative assessments could be put in place for those who didn’t feel comfortable visiting the country.

Despite growing fears, the university held off on cancelling the trip for as long as possible, in part due to insurance matters. In an email, students were given a statement from Bridget Edminson, General Counsel and Director of Governance and Compliance, that “until the Foreign and Commonwealth Office say that it is not safe to travel to Rome, insurers won’t pay out”.

Although staff continued to stress no obligation to attend, concerns about coronavirus and quarantining mounted, and students battled with the prospect of either risking travel or losing their money.  Nevertheless, the trip was still planned to go ahead as of Monday 9th March.

However, as Italy announced on Monday that the entire country was under lockdown, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised against travel, and the trip was called off. Students were informed immediately on Monday, and concerns over insurance and refunds are beginning to be addressed.

The email also stated that alternative arrangements for assessments will be made, although the current industrial action period may lengthen this process.

One student booked to go on the trip said “I’m disappointed that the main selling point of the course and the highlight of the whole undergraduate course is the trip to Rome, it’s such a shame and cost a lot of money. The strikes mean it could be ages until we get our money back as well. But thank God it was actually advised not to go by the FCO otherwise a lot of us would’ve not gone and not got a refund.”