By now, three of Ireland’s universities have announced at least the partial suspension of their Erasmus and Study Abroad programmes.
Trinity, at the time of writing, is not among them – and students are struggling in the information vacuum.
For College, there are countless unknowns in the situation we’re in, and a mountain of factors to consider – as well as its own infamous bureaucracy to navigate. But it behooves Trinity to make a decision and communicate it with students – now.
While Erasmus and Study Abroad programmes may seem a luxury, and perhaps not the top priority in a pandemic, Trinity’s lack of clear decision-making on the issue is creating confusion and uncertainty for a huge group of students.
And for those who must go on Erasmus or Study Abroad programmes in order to fulfil the basic requirements of their degree and graduate, this lack of information must be especially stressful.
Trinity told this newspaper last week that various departments “are actively working on planning for various scenarios”, but the University of Limerick, University College Dublin and Dublin City University have shown it’s possible to have worked through these scenarios and have information out to students by now.
Even if it’s not the answer they want, students need clarity – for obvious reasons. By keeping them in the dark, Trinity is contributing to an atmosphere where uncertainty and stress abound.
When it comes to accommodation, for instance, a lack of information is disastrous. Finding accommodation in a foreign country is a difficult and anxious task, especially when it has to be done remotely. At home, sourcing somewhere to live can be just as big a job.
If Erasmus programmes are to be cancelled, students equally need the time to start looking for accommodation in Dublin for the next semester.
In December, we reported on the administrative and organisational problems that going on Erasmus seems to entail at this university. Widespread inter-school miscommunication and bureaucracy abounds, putting many students off even applying for programmes in the first place.
In Trinity, applying for Erasmus can be a difficult ask in the best of times. Now, in a pandemic, it looks to be proving even harder. College needs to communicate.