To receive a Korean student visa, international students must show proof of acceptance into a Korean University. For Minerva students going to Seoul, South Korea for their second global rotation city, this means applying as an international student to Hanyang University. Yet, this past week, Minerva class of 2022 – the next class to live in Seoul – found themselves in a rushed timeline to apply for Hanyang University.

Students did not officially receive the notification that the Hanyang application had opened until 6:30am KST on Wednesday, June 12th. In this email, students were informed the application closed at 11:59pm KST on Saturday, June 15th.

In a class-wide student group chat, some students heard about the application timeline a few hours before receiving the official email. Still, students had less than four days to fill out and submit the application.

The application itself required submitting four documents: a valid passport, an academic transcript, a financial affidavit, and proof of international health insurance. Most of the application could be completed independently with no additional documents needed from Minerva.

For the health insurance document, students were told in the official email from Minerva to submit, “Official Letter of Confirmation proving that you will be insured during study period at Hanyang according to Minerva’s regulation.” Proof of insurance is a new requirement from Hanyang University, last year the instructions – available on the student Hub – read, “you do NOT need to provide proof of insurance in the Hanyang Application.” However, students in M’22 had not yet been enrolled in Minerva’s health insurance plan, making them unable to submit any document to meet this requirement.

Through the unofficial channel of a class group chat, a peer informed students Minerva would enroll them in health insurance. These registration emails, however, took an additional 24 to 48 hours – which left students between 24 to 48 hours to fully complete the Hanyang application. Students did not receive any official emails or information on this health insurance delay, nor did they receive information on which specific documents to submit to Hanyang since three variations floated around the class group chat with no official answer from Minerva or Hanyang.

M’22 students were disgruntled, frustrated, and upset with this process. The rushed timeline and the lack of clear communication were the two biggest issues raised in the chat. Throughout this, M’22 students shared information with each other, aiding the process.

When asked about the delay, Marianna Panossi, Director of Global Student Services and the Principal Designated School Official, said the following on Friday, June 14th in a statement to the Minerva Quest:

“I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to be able to provide more context to the short notice and limited time allotted for completion of the initial step to obtaining a Korean visa for you and your classmates through our partnership with Hanyang University in Seoul, Korea.

“Our visa partner, Hanyang University usually gives one week window for all foreign exchange students to submit their requests. Through our partnership, they have been generous in the past by allowing more time for our students to complete the process. Hanyang has a designated person handling MSKGI’s requests.

“There are various other issues that our team needs to resolve before we are able to disseminate all pertinent information to the students, which includes but is not limited to coordinating the process with Hanyang University, building out the modules in Prepare (there are nearly 200 modules that we build out across teams each year), instructions need to be reviewed/edited, health insurance, housing, etc. As you can imagine, it’s a very intense and time-consuming process behind the scenes.

“I am personally concerned about the short window that was made available for students to complete the process this year and have been working with our ground team in Seoul to find possible solutions in the event students are unable to meet the deadline. Our team is keenly aware that students travel during the summer and may not be able to complete the process within the given timeline. In the meantime, we have requested a possible deadline extension from Hanyang and more team members to be assigned to process our student requests.

“As of this morning, approximately a third of the students have completed the Seoul visa module in Prepare.  It is possible that many more have completed the process through Hanyang, but have not entered the information in Prepare. We will obtain the data from Hanyang early next week and based on that information, we will provide the necessary support to our students.”

Throughout the rushed Hanyang application process, Panossi was responsive to student emails and did her best to help students complete the application and corresponding Prepare module on time.

According to Panossi on Tuesday, June 18th in another statement to the Quest, “148 of our [M’22] students did register with Hanyang, and the 4 students who did not (for various reasons), will be able to register in July.”

The incident raises further questions over the capacity of Minerva’s current lean staff to effectively and successfully manage the visa processes of four classes into four different countries with students coming from over 50 different countries – all at one time.