Our ongoing commitment to safety & security

As the leader in international education for more than 55 years, we’ve weathered challenges before, including safely navigating millions of travelers through major disruptions including the SARS outbreak in 2003 and the H1-N1 outbreak in 2009, as well as environmental events such as the volcanic ash in Iceland that shut down air travel to Europe in 2010.

With a team of more than 50,000 EF personnel around the globe, we have a presence in nearly every destination we travel to—which means that we have boots on the ground monitoring the safety and security of each destination, always.

Additionally, all our groups travel with experienced Tour Directors from the moment they clear customs to the time they return home again. Tour Directors undergo extensive training in managing challenging situations and have a direct line to EF offices both locally and globally for added support.

All groups are also automatically covered by EF’s Peace of Mind program – one of the most flexible in the industry. Should a group’s travel plans need to change due to any reason, Group Leaders have the flexibility to change their program date, destination, or itinerary up to 45 days before their departure. We also never support travel to destinations that have been issued a travel advisory of 3 or higher by the U.S. government—in that case, at any point groups have the choice between modifying their itinerary or program dates, or cancelling to receive a Future Travel Voucher eligible for any of our EF travel or language products.

Actions we’re taking to support customers during COVID-19

While the COVID-19 pandemic is certainly unprecedented, our structure, expertise, and resource readiness enables us to act quickly and efficiently on behalf of our customers. Since the minute a Global Health Advisory was announced on March 11th, our top priority became bringing our travelers who were abroad home safely and swiftly (almost all returning within 48 hours), while also proactively working with our Faculty Leaders to rearrange plans for groups originally scheduled to depart this spring and summer to get ahead of all potential outcomes of COVID-19.

Given this unique situation, we have made several significant modifications to our standard booking conditions and Peace of Mind policy for the 2020 season in order to best work with and listen to the needs of impacted groups departing between March 2020 and September 2020. Some of our adjustments include:

  • Freezing cancellation fees to give our travelers more time to make travel decisions with no financial risk
  • Expanding the value of our Future Travel Vouchers to provide more flexibility and additional credit options for our travelers, including 2+ year validity and majority refund redemptions
  • Adjusting itineraries and program dates for groups with continued desire to travel on their same program at a later time, while covering discrepancies in program costs to keep customer’s investments stable

Overnight modifications to our technology and communication platforms, backed by a team working around the clock, enabled our travelers to receive up-to-date communications, personalized information about their program status for all inquiries, and rebooking options.

In order to ensure the highest standard of customer service, we also committed to the well-being of our staff by providing resources to work from home successfully and safely. In addition to robust health insurance and paid sick leave policies, EF is providing additional mental health and remote working resources to ensure each and every member of our team is supported, so that we can in turn, best support our customers.

EF-wide initiatives for a brighter future

EF College Study is proud to be just a small part of EF Education First’s greater response to COVID-19. Leveraging our vast global network of offices and schools around the world, EF is committed to giving back to communities in need during the COVID-19 crisis.

  • In England, our Ashridge House, normally a center for executive education training, was converted to house additional beds for COVID-19 patients, in an effort to support England’s National Health Services during this time of need.  
  • Our brick-and-mortar International Language Schools are bringing remote teaching to people all over the world in a new series called “Explore the Language @ Home,” which provides virtual cultural lessons from our staff across the globe.
  • EF English Live, an award-winning digital learning platform that provides specialized content, small group learning, and expert teachers, has expanded language courses to medical workers in Italy and France free of charge, so that they may best support patients in need from various backgrounds. Additionally, the French Minister of State for the Digital Sector has selected EF as the exclusive language partner to support French companies and citizens who are working from home with free online English courses.
  • We recently launched the "English for Angels" initiative for frontline medical workers in China. With the support of the local Health Administration, EF will provide a self-study platform for workers. The first phase of the program will be open to at least 1,000 hospitals across the country.
  • Across all global offices, EF has donated 55,000 masks to heroes working on the front lines of this pandemic.

EF is committed to supporting our customers and communities that have become part of the EF family and mean so much to us. As COVID-19 evolves, EF’s response will continue to adapt to ensure that seeing the world—and breaking down barriers—remains a possibility. Because of this, we are working with many customers to understand current needs as it relates to education and educational travel, as well as life during the coronavirus, in order to make modifications to our product and policies that best support the needs of our evolving environment.